Self-Awareness wasn’t Invented by Dope Smoking Hippies

I used to think self-awareness was invented by dope smoking hippies. But now I see the weight of self-blindness.

You are self-blind, at least partially.


Last night an *80 year old woman said she asked her son if she was a complainer. He said, “Yes.” She doesn’t think of herself as a complainer but someone who knows her well does.

What if you’re a complainer and don’t know it?

A punch:

Years ago a leader painfully learned he was self-blind to complaining. The feedback felt like a punch in the gut.

As a Director he had one-on-ones with the Chief Information Officer. One day, during their meeting – while he complained – the CIO asked, “Do you like anyone on your team?” It stunned *him.

What if you’re a spiralling vortex of despair when you’re trying to make things bright? (I confess. That’s a little dramatic.)

Be bold before you’re beautiful:

Self-awareness includes learning to see yourself the way others see you.

Try this bold five step project.

#1. List three people who know you well.

#2. Schedule off-site conversations with each. Lunch?

#3. In the meeting, ask for feedback. “I trust you. I’m looking for feedback. I’m committed to developing my leadership.”

#4. Draw a line on a blank piece of paper. At the left end of the line write, “Always.” On the right end write, “Never.”

#5. Ask them to put a mark on the line that indicates their response to the following question.

How frequently do you hear me complaining?

Real work:

Ask two questions.

#1. Why didn’t you make the mark further to the left?

#2. How might I move the mark further to the right?

Have a conversation. Explore behaviors. Thank them.

In order to manage influence, you must see your impact on others.

How might leaders develop self-awareness?

How might you use the line-tool in other ways?

*The stories in this post are thin slices of life that regard people I respect. Both of them are awesome people. Their stories encourage me when I see self-blindness in myself. The Director is now the CIO.