Imagine you have decided to travel. You call your travel agent or visit online and share, “I am going to Paris!”
“Great!” they respond, then ask. “From where are you departing?”
And you say, “I don’t know.”
What will that agent tell you? “Sorry, I can’t get you TO somewhere unless we know a FROM. Don’t you know where you are right now?”
You may think this scenario silly, yet I encounter it often in coaching. Vision and goals? Yep, lots of those. Self-Awareness, clarity around the current starting point? Uhm… well, not so much.
Truth is, many people seek personal growth from a place of being lost in the wilderness. They know they want to be somewhere else, but they have little idea how far they are from their target, what it might take to get there, or how they will know when they arrive.
Thus AWARENESS is the first, difficult step to create personal change. To understand where you are now often requires asking new and unusual questions and looking at yourself from other’s perspectives. It requires you to stop, look around, and pay attention to what you’re doing (or not), and saying (or not), and thinking (or not), so you can begin to see the distance from here…to there.
Try these ten questions to scan and awaken your Awareness.
- Where am I breathing? Yes, you read that correctly – where. Follow your breath as it enters your body. Are you breathing into your throat, chest, upper or deep belly? Noting location will tell you much about your current stress level (hint: breath and stress directly correlate up and down in the body).
- What emotions am I feeling? And how are those affecting me? In the field of Emotional Intelligence, keeping an Emotions Journal is the starting point for Self-Awareness and Self-Management.
- What and where is my Energy? Are you pulling forward and up, like a warrior ready to leap – or down and grounded in anticipation? Do you feel heaviness or lightness in your body? Anything trembling (hands, feet, legs) like it needs to move – or is paralyzed and afraid to move? Are you energetically in your feet, belly, chest, throat, head, or somewhere else?
- Where am I? and how might that influence me? Notice your environment, and what is pulling at you here? What might be different in a different space (e.g. home vs. work)?
- What am I tolerating? What are you putting up with in your relationships or environment that fills up a big portion of your Psychic RAM every day, yet you keep ignoring it?
- What Story am I telling myself? What assumptions am I making about this person? This situation? My own capability or blame? In my story, who is the Victim, who is the Villain, and who is the Hero? Have I already written the ending of this story, or am I allowing it to emerge without bias?
- What distractions or addictions am I keeping in front of me, which may be keeping me from seeing what I really need to see?
- What are my autopilot behaviors? You are often invisible to yourself. Even as you say you want to X, you keep doing Y – and may not even be aware you’re doing it! Ask a friend to watch you, or conduct self-observation for a week. Examples: A Food Log will reveal your unconscious eating patterns and habits. An Exercise Log or Fitbit will capture the truth of how you actually move. A Time Log will improve awareness of how you spend your precious time.
- How much power or permission do I allow myself? There may certainly be legitimate barriers to your success, but are those real or imagined boundaries?
- To what do I feel committed? In the face of overwhelm, confusion, or conflicting priorities, resist the seduction of taking action just to stay busy. Pause and gather everything that is yours and pull it to one list. I promise you will find it easier to note patterns and priorities when working from only one source.
Do This For Yourself
Choose just one or two of the above to work with to build strength in a new domain of awareness. You might start with the one(s) that most supports the journey you want to begin.
If you serve in a leadership role at any level, consider this truth: The higher you move in an organization, the more visible to others is your LACK of self-awareness, and the more your credibility suffers when you offer feedback in areas where you have yet to acknowledge your own struggle. You’ve gotta do the work on you.
Remember: Leadership is not about a title. Anyone can be a Leader who has the vision to say, “We need to go There!” and the courage to say, “I’m still over Here, but I’m working on me!”
- The Executive Happiness Coach ®
The Executive Happiness Coach® is a global provider of Executive Coaching and mentoring services. With clients in 29 countries and six continents, my passion is to help build a Happier world and workplace, one Leader at a time.
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