What Keeps Us from Self-Awareness?
Carson Pue, in his book Mentoring Leaders, lists three reasons why we lack self-awareness. I’m giving them my own explanations and adding a fourth.
- Lack of feedback. We either intentionally or unintentionally cordon ourselves off from honest, caring voices. Intentionally because we are insecure or stuck in sin, or unintentionally because we are busy or ignorant of the need.
- Insecurity. Insecurity stems from failure and fear. We all know how it is infinitely easier to recall a harsh word spoken to us than praise. We have all beaten ourselves up over mistakes and regret. Insecurity can be either an undercurrent in us that we’re unaware of or a vicious, loud monster that prohibits us from acting courageously. In the end, we fear looking in the mirror because we’ll hate what we might see.
- Busyness. I recently heard a pastor say that he changed his schedule from working as many hours as it took to cover his responsibilities to covering only the responsibilities he had hours for. Excellent advice. Busyness becomes a badge of bravery in today’s society. We compare our work hours and commitments with others and look down on those who attempt balance. But busyness is the enemy of self-awareness in that we end up repeating the same patterns of behavior without the benefit of course correction.
I would add a fourth: cynicism. If we’ve been in leadership for any length of time, we’ve heard the spiel, the call for another self-assessment, another leadership 360, another sad story of a person who fell from leadership because they neglected self-awareness. If we’re not careful, we become cynical, thinking that since we “did that,” we’re already self-aware, as if we’ve not changed in the last decade. We can have all the feedback in the world and still ignore self-awareness.
- Which of the four do you let stop you from self-awareness?
- What types of feedback or assessment have you found most helpful in learning more about who you are?
- What can you do to prevent cynicism from creeping in so that you remain self-aware?