“Awareness requires a rupture with the world we take for granted.” Shoshana Zuboff

High performance leaders recognize the need to constantly improve their organization and its people, and above all, themselves. To become better leaders, they continually expand their self-awareness, even if this means confronting aspects of their personalities, habits and performance that they’d rather not see. Self-awareness requires a dedicated effort to uncover the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Here are some steps to get you started.

Accept that others may know you better than you know yourself. It is far easier to have wisdom about others than it is to truly know ourselves. Recognize that you have a biased perspective or that you don’t comprehend the whole picture of your behavior and its impact.

Examine your world view. There’s an old saying that a fish doesn’t know it’s swimming in water until it is thrown upon the riverbank. Up until that moment, that fish thinks that he understands all about the world and how it works. Your world view is a framework that allows you to understand individuals, groups and your “reality.” A world view is like a lens through which you see yourself and others. It is dangerous to assume that your world view is the right one or the same as other people.  To explore your world view, ask yourself, What are my beliefs? and What assumptions do I make about myself and others?

Find a new perspective. Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” To get a different perspective, look at an unrelated industry, ask for feedback from a new source or methodically toss out all of your assumptions and start fresh.

Explore the unknown unknowns. You’re probably pretty comfortable with not knowing every answer. What if you didn’t even know the right questions to be asking? According to an article by Errol Morris in the New York Times Opinionator, known unknowns are the problems you can list and prepare for. The unknown unknowns are problems about which you are completely unaware. Giant leaps in self-awareness and performance can be achieved by not only adding to your list of solutions, but uncovering previously unexplored questions.

You would never accept mediocre performance from yourself. Likewise, don’t accept that you have complete self-awareness, without a consistent and disciplined effort to uncover the real you.

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