Socrates once summed up the secret to a meaningful life in two simple worlds "Know Thyself". Self awareness means knowing your needs and values, your strengths and limitations, yours passions and your idiosyncratic quirks. It means having a deep appreciation of what makes you unique on this planet. On a deeper level self awareness means knowing how you react in different situations and accepting full responsibilities for your feelings and actions. Having a better understanding of oneself is the first step to having a good relationship with others. This is because self awareness provides a window to expand our understanding about others feelings and emotions.
The importance of self awareness is based on George Kelly's Construct Theory, first published in 1955 through which he propagated the dictum that "Every person is a Psychologist". Kelly believed that people's common sense ideas and their own theories about life and relationships are enormous source of knowledge about human affairs. The central thesis of his approach is that we do not merely react to events but rather we are in charge of what we do in this world and we have the potential to recreate ourselves. Self Awareness is the capacity to be introspective and examine ones own thoughts and feelings. It is like being a silent spectator and judging the inflow and outflow of your emotions. Aldous Huxley once rightly said "There is only one corner of the universe that you can be sure of improving and that's your own self".
It is imperative to be self aware, acquire information through self introspection, carry out a formal or informal self assessment and apply all these information into concrete behavioral changes. This connotes a transformational view of human growth and change. Such people see themselves as active agents in describing, interpreting and shaping their own behaviors. In simple words they are Self Mentors. The great Roman philosopher Cicero is credited with saying that "No one can give you better advice than yourself". This is really the premise of Self Mentoring.
Self Mentoring is essentially self directed learning. It means intentionally strengthening or developing those aspects of who you are and what you want to be. It calls for you to get an accurate picture of your real self - who you are - and also a strong image of your ideal self - the person whom you want to become.
In a nut shell Self Mentoring, means cultivating your own professional growth through reflection, networking and by seeking out appropriate resources. This requires loads of motivation and self discipline.
HOW DO I BECOME A SELF MENTOR?
There are a few strategies which can be put to use to inculcate the habit of self mentoring. They are
Observe the behavior of individuals you admire - Effective leadership is both an art and a science but it can necessarily be learnt. If you admire a person embellished with behavioral qualities which befit your value system, then study the precise behaviors which makes him what he is. In Steven Covey's "Seven Habit of Successful People" he extrapolates the snow balling effect of the winning habits possessed by people who have become successful in life. For some it is determination, for others it is a mix of perseverance and dedication. If you can relate to a person then it implies that you both share the same value system. There is no harm in emulating the characteristics of such people.
Talk to individuals whom you consider to be experts in a particular field - If you find a person who is a maestro in a particular field/ subject, be bold enough to approach him and seek his advice and valuable guidance. Such people, who are embellished with streaks of brilliance, can provide you with valuable insights into the area of interests. A conversation is a kind of verbal barter where you exchange information and opinions instead of commodities. The trick is to take the best out of it, which will benefit you and help you to sharpen your intellectual prowess.
Read, Read and Read - Subscribe to journal and magazines and read them voraciously to augment your repertoire of knowledge. Enhance your sphere of comprehension thorough novels and books. Also make it a point to read articles which challenges your assumptions and try to rationalize the whole thing in your mind. Reading expands the horizon of your creative thinking and it helps to give cognizance to lot of things which were earlier shrouded in obscurity. It widens your imagination and instigates you to practice alternate thinking.
Take Risks - Be audacious enough to explore un-chartered waters and plunge yourself into depths of ambiguity. Be bold enough to try out new things. Creativity evolves out of risks. Don't approach things with trepidation, but go at it with gusto.
Diversify yourself - Don't just concentrate on your intellect, your spiritual, emotional and physical sides are equally important. Indulge yourself in activities which relish the above vignettes of your personality. It is imperative to provide equanimity in nurturing your mind, body and soul and these 3 entities are equally important.
Be open to feedback and criticism - be open to compliments and criticism as they are useful data in shaping your personality. Receptivity is the order of the day and you need to indulge in perpetual introspection to rationalize your deeds. Criticism needs to be addressed seriously as they reflect the prospective flaws in your character, which needs to be given due diligence.
This proves that what Socrates said was right. The quest for excellence begins with an inner quest to discover who we are- our passions, values, talents, our foibles and even our behavioral anomalies, which we often prefer not to acknowledge. The insight that comes from self awareness will help you appreciate the unique gifts that you possess to offer your organization, the importance of surrounding yourselves with people who complement ( not necessarily compliment) your niche skills and create new vistas for your personal as well as professional growth.
A famous proposition by the Greek philosopher Rene Descartes goes like this "Cogito Ergosm" which translates as "I think therefore I am". All of us are endowed with unique articulative skills which we need to use judiciously for self development. Be your own mentor as no body can guide you as good as your own conscience and intellect.
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