85. Know Thyself? Why Self-Awareness Isn’t Enough


“To know thyself is the beginning wisdom” – Socrates. This famous quote is a staple of all things personal and leadership development. I’d argue, however, that although this focus on self-awareness is a great start, it’s incomplete.

Self-awareness entails being authentically aware of one’s tendencies, strengths, and preferences throughout one’s day-to-day work and interactions with others. This is only a starting point. Self-awareness must translate into what’s called self-regulation; the ability to adjust one’s behavior—in the moment—based upon one’s understanding of self and the situation.

Self-awareness is easier than self-regulation. Changing one’s behavior in the heat of the moment is where the rubber meets the road. If you want to optimize your performance and well-being, it’s critical that you also work towards behavioral self-regulation.

Building up one’s ability to self-regulate requires ongoing reflections and strategic interventions. These activities can come in the form of guided prompts, technology-based micro-nudges, or executive coaching. The goal should be to incorporate well-timed, ongoing triggers where you’re forced to reflect on what you’re doing and why.

The ability to dive deep into one’s behavior, not just one’s characteristics, will help close the loop on successful development.



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