I recently picked up the book Insight by Dr. Tasha Eurich at the airport while on my way back from a speaking gig. I love her research on self-awareness and wanted to share it with you. (She has also done a TED talk on the topic which you can find by simply Googling her name.) Dr. Eurich defines self-awareness as, quite simply, the ability to see ourselves clearly. This includes understanding who we are, how others perceive us, and how we fit into the world.
According to the studies conducted by Dr. Eurich and her team, about 80% of us believe we are self-aware, but only about 10-15% of us are self-aware. She calls these individuals self-awareness unicorns since they are so rare. This makes complete sense to me based on what I’ve seen in my speeches and workshops on this topic. I have found that those individuals that are the most vocal about being self-aware tend to be the least self-aware in the group.
Why is it important for us to be self-aware? Because at the foundation of all of the skills that help our success in today’s world, such as emotional intelligence, empathy, influence, persuasion, communication, and collaboration – is the penultimate skill of self-awareness.
In her book, Dr. Eurich’s team goes even deeper into the topic and breaks this skill into two different types of self-awareness: internal and external. Internal self-awareness is about seeing yourself clearly. This is when you have an inward understanding of your values, passions, aspirations, ideal environment, patterns, reactions, and impact on others. These areas are referred to as the Seven Pillars of Insight in her book. I recommend getting her book and, if you go to Insight-Book.com, you can also download a workbook that will take you through a journey of self-discovery.
The second type of self-awareness is external self-awareness – this is about understanding yourself from the outside in. This means you know how other people see you. You can accurately (key word here) see yourself from the perspectives of other individuals. Interestingly, those individuals that have some level of self-awareness tend to be adept at either internal or external self-awareness. It is it the rare individual, the self-awareness unicorn, that excels in both areas.
Contrary to being self-aware is being self-delusional. For most people, it’s easier to choose this path because they don’t have to face the cold, hard truth about themselves. Being self-aware requires you to be vulnerable and have the courage to admit that yes, there are some areas that you really suck at and could improve upon. The good news is that self-awareness is a completely learnable skill.
How do I become more self-aware you ask? (Because you are a courageous superachiever.) Well, for now, until you can get Dr. Eurich’s book called Insight, you simply notice. Notice how you show up with others, notice their reactions, notice your internal dialogue – what stories are you creating to protect yourself. Simply notice and have the courage to look at your behavior from an outside perspective.