This short reflection is inspired by the content covered in week two of SigEp’s Ruck Leadership Institute.
For Ruck last week we had our scholars watch this video on self-leadership.
The author breaks self leadership down into three core practices:
I’ve written on this blog several articles around self-reflection; whether that was around how I prefer to journal or highlighting Benjamin Franklin’s daily reflection exercise. There have even been posts about self regulation covering topics from habit building to cultivating discipline, but we haven’t covered developing deep self-awareness.
Thinking through times when I have successfully developed self-awareness, and times when I haven’t, there are two main factors that have promoted achieving more awareness:
- An external source helping you.
- Deep reflection analyzing your actions.
Let’s talk first about the external source. This can take many forms most traditionally from coaches or leaders providing feedback. More often for me, however, this has come through conversation with friends and colleagues who I have developed close enough relationships with that they will ask a question that causes me to articulate what I really think about a topic or situation. External providers of self-awareness can also come from technology – maybe recording yourself giving a talk before you do it in front of your chapter or toast master’s group.
Another way to develop self-awareness is through pen & paper, or deep thoughts on a long walk (no headphones). This takes what Jocko Willink calls “detachment”, when you step back and analyze your own behaviors in a situation – thinking about how your actions directly led to a specific result. Asking yourself hard questions. What could I have done differently here? How did my worldview impact my thoughts here? What motivates me?
However we choose to get in-front of the proverbial mirror to develop this self-awareness is less important than doing the work of cultivating the practice. The development of self-awareness, as David Foster Wallace put it, gets us out of our default setting.
The call to get out of the default setting and develop self-awareness is an urgent one. How will you choose to do it?