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Know Oneself

A quote by Benjamin Franklin that reads "There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know oneself."

The workplace is flooded with assessments designed to give us insight on who we are, how we fit in, how we stand out, and how we screw up. Assuming you’ve spent some amount of your development time on assessments, here’s a quiz to test how much you’ve learned about yourself.

  1. Are you introverted or extroverted?
  2. What is your top strength?
  3. What skill gap do you most need to work on?
  4. What motivates you?
  5. What makes you happy?
  6. How aware are you of your emotions moment to moment?
  7. How well do you manage your thoughts?
  8. How often does your mind wander?
  9. Which of your automatic behaviors hinder your effectiveness as a leader?
  10. When did I lose you in these questions?

Sorry, that was a bit of a trick quiz. Let’s take a closer look:

Questions 1-4 reflect the insight you typically gain from the battery of assessments used in many organizations. This is good insight, especially in helping you get aligned to the type of work and learning you need to contribute your greatest talent to the organization. Unfortunately, our workplace self-awareness often ends here.

Questions 4 and 5 should have the same answer if you want to live a fulfilling life. If you do the work to clear out the clutter of false motivations (e.g. money, status, praise), you’ll ultimately realize that true happiness is your deepest motivator. If you bristle at this notion, I encourage you to keep an open mind and explore the possibility that you are seeking motivations that will not make you truly happy. True happiness is “a deeply felt existential experience that can be maintained irrespective of the ups and downs of life, not a fleeting sense of gratification…”*

Questions 6-9 reflect a deeper form of self-awareness called “mindfulness.” Most of us are lacking this level of self-awareness. But, it’s this level of self-awareness that holds your untapped potential for extraordinary results, both as an individual and as a leader of others. Mindfulness is the ability to monitor your thoughts and feelings moment by moment (most thoughts and feelings are automatic) so that you can behave in ways that make you a great team player or a great leader or a great whatever you want to be! Mindfulness is so important to 21st century leadership that we’ll be writing more in this blog about how you can develop this skill.

Question 10 tells you where your self-awareness journey might start (or restart). We hope this journey starts for you today.

*Source: The Mind of the Leader; R. Hougaard, J. Carter, 2018.

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