Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness has been identified as one of the meta-skills of the future. Meta-skills, as defined by Gustavo Razzetti, are the master skills that activate and magnify your other skills. They are “high-order skills that allow you to engage with functional expertise more effectively. They [are] catalyst[s] for learning and building new skills faster.”

So then, How Self-Aware are You?

Based on the research by many reputable psychologists, we are actually regrettably less self-aware than we’d like to think we are. In fact, our illusion of how self-aware we are, is a hindrance to becoming more self-aware (Eurich).

One of the examples of this illusion is the Dunning-Kruger Effect, whereby one’s limited knowledge of the matter causes them to overestimate their ability and competence in the matter. The reverse is also true: when someone excels at a task, they tend to undermine the complexity of the task and subsequently undermine their ability relative to the ‘average’.

For example: when one first starts learning a new language, their limited understanding of the verb tenses and conjugations may mislead them into thinking that the language is quite simple, subsequently overestimating their ability and the time it will actually take to master the language.

Self-awareness is the same. We often overestimate how much we actually know ourselves. It is mind-boggling to wrap our heads around it, isn’t it? If we don’t even know ourselves, then who does? The reality is, there is a substantial part of our subconscious that we are not privy to, particularly when it pertains to fear, guilt, and our social and biological need to belong. We sometimes arbitrarily justify and glorify the ‘why‘ behind our actions.

Here are some examples:

  • “I should better do some more work than going to the networking event,” Fear-of-Social-Gathering declares righteously.
  • “I’ll buy Charlie the Nintendo Switch she’s been asking for,” Guilt justifies after you have been working too much and not spending enough time with your child.

How Do We Get to Know Ourselves Better?

This is probably not a surprise but one of the most effective ways of getting to know ourselves better, is to humbly seek feedback from those who are closest to us. It is optimal to seek feedback from 3-5 stakeholders that have been supportive, honest, and transparent. To help us gain insight into our values, we can ask them questions such as:

  • “What are some of the principles I operate as the central point of my life?”
  • “What do you think I invest the most time and money in?”
  • “What are the top 3 adjectives you would use to describe me?”

“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”

It takes tremendous courage, vulnerability, and humility to hear other people’s perception of your values and principles. I hope their perception is not too far from your internal awareness, and even if it is, I hope that you will have the wisdom to disarm your ego and hear them out.

Thank you for reading! This is only the tip of the iceberg for Self-Awareness. Next up: Self-Awareness Archetypes. Then finally, with enough Self-Awareness, we can talk about Episodic Future Thinking. Stay tuned!