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Why Self-Awareness Matters

IMG_0650 - CopyIf you were a Greek citizen in the 4th century B.C., traveling to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to listen to the Oracle’s wisdom, you’d find this inscription on the wall: “Know thyself.” In more recent years, self-awareness gets less press than flashier qualities like ambition and charisma. However, it matters just as much today as it did in ancient Greece. Here are 4 ways that self-awareness, one of the biggest results of learning the Enneagram, benefits our work and daily life.

  1. It builds business success.

A 2009 study found high self-awareness to be the top predictor of executives’ success. These self-aware executives are more likely to hire people who excel in their own areas of weakness, and to recognize when others’ ideas are better than their own. Most businesses require skills beyond what their leadership team is immediately able to provide. Self-aware leaders can recognize these gaps and make judicious choices about when to acquire these skills and when to outsource. They structure their teams intelligently and are open to learning from others. Not only does their willingness to delegate create a happier and more cohesive team; it also pays off in dollars. A 2015 study of 486 public companies’ financial performance found that the highest-earning companies had the most self-aware employees with the fewest blind spots – areas that professionals named as personal strengths but their colleagues’ feedback revealed to be personal weaknesses.

  1. It improves time management.

We all want to spend our time on things we care about. If social justice gets you moving, you’d probably be happiest contributing your time to the greater good, whether that’s volunteering in a soup kitchen on the weekends or founding an NGO. If you value the impact and experience of speaking to crowds, you might drag your feet in a career that revolves around one-on-one work or working from home. If you’re a person that needs a lot of solitude, your ideal schedule will look different than that of someone who values lots of family time. Becoming aware of what motivates you allows you to make wise choices about how to spend your time, both professionally and personally.

  1. It helps you find a niche.

Having a good sense of your strengths can tip you off to the type of work that’s best suited to you. If you’re great at building relationships with people, let that permeate your career, whether through direct client work or B2B marketing. If you’re gifted at working with your hands, see if you can use that ability even if you’re in a seemingly unrelated field. (We’ve both had colleagues who were lauded for their beautiful office decorations!) Once you have a good sense of how and where you bring the most value, let it guide the choices you make. It might just become the thing you’re known for, the catalyst of your personal success story.

  1. It strengthens relationships.

We all have tendencies that drive other people crazy. Self-awareness allows us to see them. If you find yourself criticizing or dominating (or whatever pattern you do that gets on people’s nerves), take a moment to notice what’s going on in your body. See if you can step back from your reaction and choose a different way to engage. The important people in your life will thank you! What’s more, when you’re open and attentive rather than habit-driven, other people will be more open, too. They’ll feel more appreciated and connect to you more easily. Having a daily self-observation practice, like mindfulness or yoga, is helpful in building these self-awareness skills. If you practice noticing your mind’s tricks on the mat, it will become easier to notice them among friends, colleagues, and family.

No matter what your personality type is, you’ll reap benefits from building self-awareness. Are there subtle ways you can restructure your life to play to your strengths? Are there small steps you can take to mitigate your challenges? As you learn more about yourself, what actions can you take to help you thrive?