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A road less travelled

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

The concepts of authenticity, and passion and purpose are currently trending and it is difficult to open a magazine without at least one article dedicated to this topic.

What many of us fail to understand is that far from being new, or revolutionary, they are in fact concepts that are almost as old as time.

The words 'know thyself’ were originally attributed to Socrates, and were inscribed on the temple of Delphi over 2,000 years ago.

The idea that we should learn all we can about leading ourselves before we are able to learn about, and lead others has literally stood the test of time.

However while we now understand just how important self-awareness is to leadership development, it is a task that is easier said than done. It is precisely because it is so difficult to master this skill that so many of us continue to engage in self-defeating behaviours that cause us to fail to reach our own authenticity and potential.

When we know ourselves we no longer feel a need to seek the safety of a carefully constructed front. We become free to be ourselves, in a real, and authentic way, and in so doing, we are able to become the best of who we actually are.

The quest towards self-discovery is a continuous journey - an ongoing process of self-reflection rather than a one-time project or a destination.

Increasing our self-awareness requires that we continually monitor, examine, and modify our thinking and behaviours.

It is a reflective process that comes from moments of stillness, when we allow ourselves to tune into, and listen to our self-talk, becoming aware of our thoughts and their source. Are they coming from a controlling, critical, perfectionist, comparing, slave driver, drama queen, worrier, sabotaging or a kind, nurturing, positive and self-accepting voice?

The ability to question how you are doing - without bias or ego - brings invaluable insight and self-learning. Look back on events neutrally, and observe; what worked and what did not, what could you have done more of, or less of, and what could have been done differently.

Recognising and understanding our current patterns moves us further along the road to:

* gaining clarity of purpose and vision of what we want to achieve in life.

* an understanding of what makes us unique - our strengths, weaknesses and capabilities.

* learning how to leverage our strengths in order to compensate for our weaknesses.

* understanding our unique contribution to the world around us.

* understanding our personal beliefs, blind-spots, principles, habits, motivators and values.

A greater level of self-awareness enables us to understand who we are right now and helps shape who we want to be in the future.

In order to shift an ineffective thought or behaviour we must first be able to see and recognise it for what it is, where it is coming from and what it represents. Therefore, being aware of our present selves allows us to be more conscious of our reactions and behaviours and assists us in changing them in favour of more effective ones in a way that is sustainable over the long term.

The power of self-awareness allows us to start travelling through life as informed observers rather than victims.

To live a life that serves and positively impacts those around us requires that we first learn to understand ourselves.

Personal leadership is about accepting responsibility for leading the self, and is based on the premise that in order to behave authentically in leading others we must first learn to lead ourselves.

It is founded on a choice to live a life of meaning and purpose, and the ability to positively impact the lives of others.

As Socrates wisely said 'to move the world we must move ourselves'.

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