How self-awareness boosts confidence
There are so many aspects to effectively leading others. Have you ever felt overwhelmed just thinking about where to begin?
For instance, we know that we need good business acumen, but we also need to have the emotional intelligence that allows us to effectively serve and care for team members. We also need to be competent, and we need to be able to inspire others with a positive vision of the future.
- What’s the most important of these? How should we prioritize our time and energy?
- What if there was a single skill that helped us improve every aspect of being leader — a meta-skill that influenced all the others?
- Wouldn’t that be the most important skill to develop?
There is such a skill. It is self-awareness.
This is the most crucial skill there is for leadership (and for life in general). Although most of us are certainly self-aware quite often, I believe that this is an area where most of us have a tremendous amount of room for growth.
Why Self-Awareness Is So Crucial
Self-awareness affects every aspect of leadership in some way, but for the sake of space here we’ll focus on emotional intelligence, business acumen, and confidence.
According to Daniel Goleman, who literally wrote the book on emotional intelligence (EQ), self-awareness is the core competency of EQ. Self-awareness is most strongly associated with self-regulation and empathy, which are both crucial for driving positive emotions in those around us, but it is linked to every other EQ competency as well.
Self-awareness and self-regulation are also crucial for making good business decisions. The more resilient we are in stressful situations, the better our decisions will be under pressure. Self-awareness also helps us to see more clearly when we are making decisions out of habit and to be more willing to move out of our comfort zone. Self-regulation helps us to stay out of our comfort zone when we realize that that’s what we need to do in order to achieve optimal results.
Self-awareness is also a key element of a very interesting virtuous cycle for greater confidence. By applying mindfulness training and other tools to develop self-awareness, we gradually become aware of more and more aspects of ourselves. Most important in terms of confidence is becoming more aware of where we are strong and where we are weak.
Being more clear about where we are strong helps boost confidence because it helps us focus more energy on doing what we’re good at, which increases our overall sense of confidence. But, being more clear about our weaknesses is also essential.
First, clarity about weaknesses can help us to surround ourselves with people who are strong where we’re weak. Knowing that our team as a whole is more than capable of excelling where we are weak gives us the confidence to take on issues that we might not have otherwise taken on.
Also, when we have to personally take action in an area where we are weak, the awareness of that weakness can help remind us to pay a bit more attention to how the body is reacting to having to tackle something that’s not one of our strengths. We’ll likely notice aversion and anxiety are present in moments like these.
By simply being more aware of what’s physically happening in the body, we immediately help reduce aversion and anxiety. Thus, self-awareness can further boost confidence because it helps us navigate challenging situations with the knowledge that we can skilfully deal with the emotional reactions that come up during those situations.
When we’re more confident that we can handle situations that challenge us, we’re more likely to take on those challenges. The more often we take on a task that challenges us, the better we get at the task. As our competence improves in a certain area, we become even more confident, both in our ability to handle that specific task and in our overall sense of confidence.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Have you noticed a similar, virtuous cycle?
What are some of the things you’re doing to increase your self-awareness?
Matt Tenney is a social entrepreneur, an international keynote speaker and corporate trainer, and the author of Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom. www.MattTenney.com