self-awarenessContinuing our focus on your thinking environments & personal development, let’s turn to the topic of self-awareness.

Not just in my own coaching & mentoring work, but also in my own experience of practicing mindfulness, time and again I have seen the power of improved self-awareness. Yet, especially without a coach or mentor to work with, many leaders struggle to know where to start.

Too much of our working lives can seem to drift past in a kind of fog of “shallow work“, as Cal Newport describes it.

So, I’m pleased to welcome back experienced coach & fellow blogger, Kevin Watson. In this guest blog post, Kevin shares a simple exercise he uses to help leaders get to know themselves better…

Self Awareness the biggest benefit

I’m often told by the leaders I coach that raising self-awareness is the single most important benefit I bring to them.

Today, I will share with you a simple exercise you can use to help you get to know yourself better.

Before starting, dig out your personal development plan – thanks.

What do you mean you don’t have one?

Is it in the bottom drawer gathering dust?

Okay, I’m joking.

You know, I find there are too many leaders like you who do not have a personal development plan.

Let me ask you this question:

Why is it that you focus on everyone else’s development apart from your own?

How well can you really know yourself? Your motivations, your values and your beliefs?

Here’s the thing, if you have such little self-awareness, how on earth can you expect anyone else to be at their best when working with you?

Your Credo

Here’s an exercise to help you explore your principles, raising your self-awareness of what is truly important for you at work.

Imagine that your organisation has afforded you the chance to take a six-month sabbatical, all expenses paid. The only condition is that you may not take any work along on this sabbatical and you will not be permitted to communicate to anyone at your office while you’re away.

Not by email, phone, letter or any other means. Just you, a few good books, some music and your family or a friend.

Before you depart, the people you work with need to know the principles you believe should guide their actions in your absence.

They need to know the values and beliefs that you think should steer their decision-making and action taking.

After all, you want to be able to fit right back in when you return!

You are not permitted any long reports. Just a simple one-page Credo Memo.

Now, grab a piece of A4 paper and write that memo.

I’ll sit here with a cup of coffee whilst you finish it off.

Have you done yet?

Need a few more moments?

Okay, now you’ve written your Credo Memo take the principles you’ve listed and put them in order of priority.

Easy? I suspect not, but stick with it.

Now, what are the top three, the principles you would die for?

Developing Your Self-Awareness

Share this simple exercise with your team and notice the similarities and differences you have.

Next, consider how your Credo Memo can help you remain in focus.

Of course, this exercise is not a substitute for more in-depth self-discovery of values and beliefs, but it does provide a useful starting point for articulating your guiding principles.

Forcing yourself to express preferences, enables you to see the relative potency of each one.

Over the past ten years, I’ve helped hundreds of leaders raise their self-awareness and worked with them to form a bespoke development programme that simply worked for them. Remember, the place to start your own development plan is to really understand what will make a difference for you.

To do this, first get to know yourself better!

What will you do next?

Wise words from Kevin. I’d confirm from my own coaching work, that raising self-awareness is always valuable & often the foundation for the other changes needed, or at least the motivation to make them.

Are you comfortable that you know yourself sufficiently? What have you done to document your values or principles? How do you keep these ‘in view’ when making those priorities calls needed daily & over longer periods?

I’d love to hear more (in our comments section) about your approaches to either life planning, self-awareness or prioritising your use of time & money to reflect who you are & what you value.

Thanks again to Kevin, for the exercise & the challenge.