Knowing Yourself Is the Beginning of All Wisdom Aristotle
This message is still relevant in today’s world over 2400 years later as self-awareness is a core skill needed in life and more so for successful leadership. October is Emotional Intelligence (EI) Awareness Month. The first dimension of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is Self- Awareness.
How often have you heard people say, “I’m not really sure what I’m feeling right now?” or “I don’t know what to think.” “I don’t know how to react”. When you don’t know or understand yourself or your own feelings, you don’t have the ability to properly respond to a given situation for them or you won’t be able to understand or lead others.
Self- Awareness encompasses your ability to identify your own feelings and emotions. Own them, discover your hot buttons and what triggers you emotionally as well as understand the implications of your reactions.
You don’t have to go on a long journey in the desert or go hike Mount Kilimanjaro to be self-aware. All it takes is the willingness to become self-observant and then follow these three simple actions.
- Take Emotional inventory – have you ever observed a child and watched how they react to the world around them? They take in their experiences and express their emotions, yet within minutes they will move on. How many different emotions do you experience throughout the day? A simple way to determine that is to record your emotions for a period of the week or two. Doing that will also help you understand what dominant emotions exist in your life.
- Identify your Hot Buttons – we all have them. Whether it’s getting angry when you drive on the highway and somebody cuts you off, to getting hurt if somebody looks at you sideways. Make a list of your hot buttons by thinking about times in your life when you were reacted with strong emotions so you know what types of events trigger you.
- Take account of your behavior – it’s one thing to identify your triggers it’s another thing to notice whether you become reactive and what action you take when someone has pushed your buttons. Understanding your behavior is the first step in being able to manage your reactions.
The benefit of self-awareness is not only the ability to understand yourself but ultimately gives you the opportunity to observe the same type of behaviors in other people, be it your team members, management, clients or even your family. The more self-aware you become the more opportunity you have for better self-regulation and emotional management which is the second dimension of Emotional Intelligence. That is where you learn how to diffuse the fuse and shift your emotional reactions to logical responses.
Leaders with high levels of Emotional Intelligence are known to be less reactive, more observant and more centered. They model that behavior in their organizations to the rest of the people which helps build authority, trust and stability.
If you are looking to increase your leadership value, develop your EQ, become more self-aware and be willing to look in the mirror to see who you really are!