The Self-Mastery Series I - Emotional Self-Awareness

“In order to bring out the best in others, you must first bring out the best in yourself” 

Introduction

I have always known the human mind to be an amazing gift from God. The depth and extent of it we may never fully harness. It is the seat of our consciousness and with a greater presence of mind it is possible to see clearly what is true or untrue, eternal or transient, real or imaginary.

You cannot be a master of yourself without first understanding the power that lies within you. Much of what we don’t understand about being human is simply in our heads and often we are at odds with ourselves.

Scholars the world over theorized about the multiplicity of the human mind. In simple terms, they claim that there seem to be more than one “you” inside of you. LOL. Self-mastery therefore is about creating the inner congruence (agreement & peace) between an external stimulus, our competing internal interpretation and our subsequent emotional response.

Self-mastery will provide an opportunity to exercise control over the one thing you CAN control in any situation: yourself. This happens when you exercise mastery over your thoughts, emotions, words and actions with the ability to change and transform your life.

Please note that the more you understand yourself, the more control and understanding you have over yourself and your life.

Our biggest “Naysayers” aren’t out there, they are within us!

I am super delighted to write this self-mastery series. The very first session that I hold with many of my mentees is always about self-awareness. I spend countless hours talking about living within and understanding oneself. This is because you cannot lead anyone until you have conquered yourself.

I have therefore opted to share this bit of my experiences and learnings from over the years to help you take this deeply intellectual journey to discover yourself.

I hope to keep the post as reasonably short as possible and with short and insightful examples where necessary.

We will start from the very beginning……a very good place to start……

Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation for a larger arena of competence known as emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the collection of abilities used to identify, understand, control and assess the emotions of the self and others. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.

EI has four core competencies

– Self-awareness,

-Self-management

– Social awareness and

-Relationship management.

In this post we will focus a lot on self-awareness.

Self-awareness is about developing your capacity to sense how you are coming across to others and to have undistorted visibility into your own strength and weaknesses and to be able to gauge the emotions you are personally experiencing at any given point.

Self-awareness is at the core of everything. It is one of the hallmark of a great leader. If you aim to unlock your potential as a leader in any sphere of life, you must learn to demonstrate a high degree of emotional self-awareness.

For a leader it describes your ability to not only understand your strengths and weaknesses, but to recognize and calibrate your emotions and the effect they have on you and the impact on others so they respond constructively to your leadership. This is important because if you are going to mobilize others to get things done, you cannot let your own emotions get in the way.

According to research (by organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich), 95 percent of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10 to 15 percent actually are, and that can pose problems for everyone else in your team as a leader.

The types of Self Awareness you must intentionally develop (Self –Knowledge) – taking stock

Becoming self-aware comes naturally to only a few of us mortals. The rest of us must learn, hone and cultivate this skills/competency deliberately with the sole objective of growing our sense of presence which is critical to our leadership growth.

This section will bring clarity and shed more light on how to become self-aware and the areas to start with.

Don’t let your lack of self-knowledge stagnate your influence. Know yourself. Give the following quotes some thoughts;

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words they becomes actions;
Watch your actions they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become character;

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Frank Outlaw

One interesting question though – As a kid, when did you first become aware of yourself as a separate being? – drop responses in the comment section please, I would love to hear.

I was once stunned by the response of an old colleague to this question. She claimed that she first became conscious of herself at the age of 2! Oh dear! And she recollects her every reaction and the event that first stirred her into consciousness.

To be honest, I am probably a late starter myself at 6/7years because researchers say that children progress through a series of levels of self-awareness between birth and approximately age 4 or 5.

We will now find out how self-aware you are by taking inventory of your emotions and what triggers them.

Let’s begin the journey to self-discovery, shall we?

Self-awareness of your strength & Weakness

This is beginning to sound pretty routine and obvious innit? Oh well, we will see how much of yourself you know. But let’s start with understanding why this needs to be done.

The road to self-mastery begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness is having an insightful understanding of your personality, value, tendency, belief, actions and emotions to help determine your values and principles.

Self-awareness therefore leads to the accumulation of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge identifies what you know about yourself. With self-knowledge you are able to understand your strengths to build upon as well as identify areas where you may likely need to make improvement.

I’ll help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. To do so, I’ll walk you through a few and common ways to do this;

1; Take some time alone to list out what you consider your strengths and weaknesses. There is a chance that you may have a biased opinion of yourself and this will reflect in your list. This isn’t unusual, typically most people think too highly of themselves, or too little of themselves. Write it none the less.

To help you think about what to include in your strengths/weaknesses you may ask yourself questions like:

– What am I good at?
– What have others complimented me about?
– What have others had to help me with on more than one occasion?
– Which projects and tasks seem to drain my energy?
– Which projects have I spent hours on without getting tired?
– What are my hobbies, and why do I like doing them?

It is worthy to note that discovering your weaknesses also builds humility that would allow you to appreciate yourself even more. Be cautious of a critical mistake most people make: Don’t try to fix weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

Learn to manage your weaknesses and develop your strengths.

2; Talk to people you trust and who know you well enough to get an idea of your personal strength. To do this, think about three to five people whose opinions you trust, and who have had the chance to live or work with you for an extended period of time.

These people should be those who have observed your behavior and character in a number of different situations. For most people, that group will include a significant other, perhaps a mentor or advisor, a best friend, one or more siblings, or your parent(s).

So therefore, carefully select people who have a good track record of being balanced and helpful, even when they’ve needed to tell you something that you didn’t want to hear.

The most important thing here is whether or not you value or trust their opinion of you. Some friends and family members will be too biased—they either think everything you do is amazing, or their opinions have been hurtful and destructive in the past.

You may then split them into two categories: people you connect with on a deep level of love, and people who you are close with, but maybe you’re a little different in lifestyle and personality.

Then, ask one person from each category to honestly tell you what they think you’re best at, and what they think you’re worst at. “What are my skills and abilities, and what are my weaknesses?”

Others around you can usually see your weaknesses more easily than you can see them. They can give you tremendous insight into the areas of weakness.

You may ask them questions like;

– “If “your  job” was on the line for my performance, what kind of work would you not want me to do?

3; Take a personality test

The last step to identify your strength aside from or in compliment to the time spent thinking and listing your strengths and the opinions you’ve gathered from others is to take a personality tests. These online test are a very useful resource to help you identify strengths and even your weakness.

To put things in context, here are a few examples of strengths & weaknesses.
Strength (This list is not exhaustive):

• Action-oriented/entrepreneurial
• Attentive/detail-oriented
• Collaborative
• Committed/dedicated
• Creative
• Determined
• Disciplined/focused
• Empathetic
• Enthusiastic/passionate/driven
• Flexible/versatile
• Honest
• Innovative
• Patient
• Respectful

Weakness (This list is not exhaustive);

• Disorganized
• Self-critical/sensitive
• Perfectionism (note: this can be a strength in many roles, so be sure you have an example of how perfectionism can be a problem to demonstrate that you’ve thought deeply about this trait)
• Procrastination.
• Shy/Not adept at public speaking
• Competitive (note: similarly to perfectionism, this can be a strength)
• Limited experience in a nonessential skill (especially if obvious on your resume)
• Not skilled at delegating tasks
• Take on too much responsibility
• Not detail-oriented/too detail-oriented
• Not comfortable taking risks
• Too focused/lack of focus.

Please  click here to read the second part of this series.

*This series of post is your guide to discover the leader in you.

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7 thoughts on “Emotional Self-Awareness”

  1. Ibilola Famugbode

    I think I became aware of myself around age 4.At least as far as my inquisitive and wanderlust spirit is concerned.In recent times I have had to work on my Emotional intelligence delibrately due to some poor decisions I had made prior to that time that were beginning to manifest in ways I didn’t like.I’m not there yet but this certainly helps to put some things in perspective.I’m still working on procrastination as well.The line that got to me the most is “don’t try to fix weaknesses and turn them into strengths”.I’ve been set free…lol.Thanks for sharing.I look forward to reading the rest of these series.

  2. Mayowa Oladimeji

    Well, I became aware of myself at the age of 3 but I know I have alot to do building my EI…
    I believe with this few point I should be able to work out something.
    See you at the other side boss.

  3. Alfred Amiolemen

    This piece really got me thinking. I really cannot say pointedly when I became self aware in my cradle years, but I still can remember I was little above 3 yrs and was aware that I lost a younger one and became aware of quite somethings; I wouldn’t know if that fit into been self aware. Emotional intelligence (social interaction) is one area I have really tried to improve on and I wouldn’t say I have achieved my expectations but it’s work in progress. Thanks for sharing this, it’s really very insightful and informative.

  4. Age 6, I became aware of myself then I begin to understand and identity more complex emotions. With this piece I know with out doubt that self awareness is an important skill that we can cultivate to help us progress on our personal development journey.
    I realise that without working on my distressing emotions and effective relationship no matter how smart one is its will be difficult to go far . thank you Duke…

  5. Waoo!!! This is mind blowing . I surely think I became aware of myself at around 5 – 6 yrs old though still young then. Nice piece . With this, one will be able to know more better about oneself at all stage of life. Nice piece there sir

  6. Good to know that ‘i should not try to fix weakness rather I should learn to manage it. Cool. Can’t really remember when my self awareness started for now, but will ponder on it to remember. Nice piece on EI. Cheers

  7. Adedamola Ilori

    As much as I feel like am in control at all times ,I still see a good number of weaknesses.
    Thanks for sharing omo Akin

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