Karen Darrin

I am obsessed with Tasha Eurich’s bookInsight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think. Self-awareness has always seemed to me such a key skill for leadership and life, in general. But Eurich dives deep with answers from her research that confirm my observations and also challenge me. 

In listening to Ken Blanchard’s podcast interviewing Eurich this weekend, I was reinvigorated with Eurich’s findings.  She states:

“Our data reveals that 95 percent of people believe they are self-aware, but the real number is 12 to 15 percent,” she says. “That means, on a good day, about 80 percent of people are lying about themselves—to themselves.”

Really? That hits me right between the eyes. But then, as I reflect on the leadership coaching that I do, I can see this. Some of us feel we do know ourselves (internal self-awareness) but may not be comfortable probing for data around how others see us (external self-awareness). There are not many people that are thrilled to receive a 360-degree feedback assessment. We all have blind spots and Eurich’s data confirms that most of us are not willing to ask others about them.

The good news is that working to improving your internal and external self-awareness is a skill that can be developed. Knowing your values, your personality tendencies, what triggers you and how others see you is foundational information for your professional development. Eurich’s book dives into many tips, tools, and ideas that a leader can implement, particularly with the help of a coach or mentor.

One key skill that Eurich mentions has proven its’ worth to me and my clients. It is the simple adjustment of asking “what” instead of “why”? When questioning your assumptions, many of us jump into asking “why do I do that?” and this question can send us down a self-flagellation spiral that is tough to stop. Beating ourselves up becomes second nature. I did it for years and am only now noticing when it pops up and then shifting my attention.

The question to ask is “what” instead of “why.” “What can I do differently here;” or, “what would be a better tactic next time?” This one small shift will focus your attention on adjusting your behavior and thus, your performance.

In fact, the feedback model I have been using for years is all “what” questions:

  • What can I do more of/less of?
  • What can I stop/start?
  • What can I do to be better next time?

Give it a try and let me know how it works. Use “what” questions to boost your internal self-awareness level and try it when asking your teams feedback. Be open and curious about what they tell you. Each person’s perspective is their reality, so give theirs a listen.

Mom always said, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason!”

CALL TO ACTION:  Are you wanting to improve your self-awareness? Let’s brainstorm some strategies to try. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here:  Schedule Free Consult.

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