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Gareth Martin

Executive / Life Coach
Host of Ridiculously Human Podcast

Self-Awareness — why it’s your greatest asset.

You’ll hear the term ‘self-awareness’ spoken about a lot these days. I believe it to be your greatest treasure and think it’s important to have a good level of self-awareness in order to progress forward in life. However, self-awareness can also be deemed as one of those fluffy, intangible and abstruse kinds of things.

What is it? Why is it important? How can you recognise if you are on the right track?

What is it?

Self-awareness is all about observation. Observation of yourself and others from afar. As if you are looking into your own life and the conversations you have with an objectively critical, accepting and forgiving, eye and ear. It’s knowing what you are good at and what you are not good at. Self-awareness requires a good amount of emotional intelligence and humility. Self-awareness is something you are always going to be working on your entire life as you keep changing. There are varying degrees of it too and for many people, it’s not something they even register.

Why is it important?

It’s important because you start treating people better. You start taking steps to improve yourself too. You become someone who others like to be around because you are generally more pleasant, conscientious and attentive. You’re able to analyse and sum-up scenarios before you go all-in with a response.

Self-awareness allows people to recognise what things they do best, so they can then focus on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses.

It’s about being 100% crystal clear honest with yourself. You need to do an audit of who you are and stop lying to yourself. Stop telling yourself stories and start accepting your shortcomings. It’s also about being at peace with yourself and your skillset. We are all so different. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. I want people to learn to be at peace with themselves, to understand what they can offer, because absolutely everyone’s got something. The key, however, is learning how to find it. Self-awareness can help you do that. When you go all in on your strengths, then you’ve got a good starting point for success. Your shortcomings will improve over time as you become more aware of them and work on them too.

How can you recognise if you are on the right track?

I cringe when I look back on my life at some of the things I did and ways I treated people. At the time I thought I was 100% right, but looking back now, I know it was just my ego speaking 🙁 Do I forgive myself for the way I was? Yesiree, I have to, in order to move on! Do I accept that it happened? Absolutely, it’s an important lesson for me to learn from.

How have you got to this point in your life? i.e. Who you are at this present moment is a result of different layers of all your mistakes, achievements, learnings and both good and bad habits. Have you learnt from them and do you even know what they are?

You need to accept and recognise that both mistakes and achievements are equal learning opportunities. You also realise that life is a journey and that you constantly need to evolve as you go along. Nothing is stationary. You need to be consistently learning from good and bad. It’s important to not get caught up on the negative things and to move on quickly.

When you are more self-aware, you are attentive of how you speak and interact with people. You are conscious of the language that you use when speaking with others and choose your words carefully. You react eloquently and don’t snap. You are able to stay curious for longer by taking a step back, listening better and hearing other’s perspectives, before giving your two cents. You are much more mindful of how other people speak and behave too, which helps you to have better conversations and form stronger and deeper relationships with them.

Maybe an example will help:

(i) You are having a conversation with some friends and one bloke is saying something which sounds like absolute rubbish. However, you do not know for 100% certain if it is complete rubbish. So you bite your tongue, say nothing and then go do some research afterwards to find out. If you had no self-awareness you would have responded in that moment, probably argued then started a big fight for no reason. Self-awareness helps to diffuse many situations.

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