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In my last blog (Who, Me?) I shared a highly difficult and perhaps distasteful process called self-awareness. If you’re like me you may be asking, “why would I want to put myself through such an intense and personally vulnerable process?” Here’s the most convincing reason for me: relationships. EVERYTHING that is successful in business and life requires relationships and positive interaction with people. (Psst: This is true even for those of us who prefer less people and enjoy being alone).

Just in case you need a sign that now is the best time to start (or continue) your focus on intentional self-awareness, here’s your sign! Even if you’re already feeling pretty self-aware, there’s always more awareness to be had. I just heard on a podcast that a leadership guru, known internationally for productivity and keen leadership capabilities, recently hired a coach to help him hone his self-awareness, which helped him become even more productive and able to pass on leadership skills with greater focus. If someone known for leadership and relationship building finds self-awareness helpful, then I reckon you and I can benefit as well.

So, I’ve taken the plunge. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, so with the help of an honest mentor and the (slight) willingness to be vulnerable, I started a journey I am still experiencing of being intentional in learning about me. How do I do this? I step back and ask myself four basic questions whenever I feel extremely excited, utterly discouraged, or anytime I feel awkward:

1. What am I feeling right now?

2. What is the root cause of my emotion?

3. What behaviors am I exhibiting as a result of my emotions?

4. What is the effect of my behavior on those around me?

Notice I never ask “why,” but rather make it objective as possible by asking “what.” If anyone wants an intense challenge that will pay off in dividends, this is definitely one! I can assure you I’m far from being naturally self aware, but I know I have grown in my ability to be aware, and as a result have found it easier to be “with.” I am now able to identify some of the ways I tend to short circuit relationships by words, tones, and behaviors. This then prompts me to look for ways to stop myself ahead of time and insert a more helpful response (which means I’ve prepared the desired response ahead of time - more on this later).

I’ve experienced an extreme freedom in apologizing and saying I messed up.

Since I’m still learning, I’ve also experienced an extreme freedom in apologizing and saying I messed up. I’ve found that people who do the same - authentically and honestly seek to understand themselves in order to grow positive relationships - are the easiest with which to have a good relationship. If you seek to learn this pivotal mindset, join me in creating and sustaining positive relationships and be “with” those around you one self observation at a time!

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