Why You Need To Be More Self-Aware

I regularly meet people who are convinced they’re popular, witty, creative, and/or respected. But in reality, they’re none of the above. I’m not being judgmental, I’m just noting that their self-image isn’t rooted in reality. As a result, they completely misjudge their performance in meetings, on the job, when speaking to a group, or when being creative. And when it comes to relationships and career, it will kill you.

You’ve meet them. People who walk away from a conversation, interview, meeting, or presentation with a completely different view of what actually happened. In those moments, I sometimes wonder if I’m the crazy one, but when I ask around, other people had the same impression. For instance, I once knew a speaker who would walk off the stage after a talk and say, “Wow. That was powerful. It’s going to help a lot of people.” When in reality, he just bored the audience to death.

Watch this scene from the movie “The Bourne Identity.” Even though Matt Damon’s character is suffering from amnesia, he’s acutely aware of everything that’s going on around him.

Officially, I would call this video an example of “situational awareness” more than “self awareness” but what’s similar to my point is the accurate understanding of what’s happening with him at that moment.

The point is – be aware.  Look in the mirror, ask people, get feedback, and be open to the truth. Realistically knowing your performance, the strength of your demo reel, the quality of your writing, speaking skills, musical ability and more, can make or break your career.

The temporary pain of discovering your misfires isn’t nearly as bad as the long term revelation that you were off-course from the beginning.  Hopefully, you’ll never walk away with a different impression than everyone else had of your performance.

The ancient Greeks were right: “Know thyself.”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • A key to accurate self-awareness is the New Testament concept of ekklesia — a gathering of Christ-followers who openly, honestly, and humbly love, encourage, admonish, exhort, forgive, and otherwise minister to one another.

    • As Christians, we should definitely do that more….

  • Oscar

    I’ve witnessed the dynamic of self-unawareness more times than I’d prefer – particularly in ministry circles. In my experience, the problem tends to be either: (A) These people surround themselves only with those who have favorable opinions of them (cheerleaders) or, at the very least, those who won’t say anything otherwise; or (B) Perhaps worse yet, they are unable/unwilling to truly hear the constructive criticisms being offered by others. What I find most perplexing though is that despite their glaring deficiency in self-awareness, they nonetheless are able to remain in positions of influence and power for extended periods of time. I suppose the one encouraging bit of news in all this (related to ministry) is that, despite our failings and inadequacies, it is God who builds His church. So, even when we royally screw it up, He more than compensates for our shortcomings.

    • All great points Oscar. One of the big issues with this is exactly the first thing you point out – surrounding ourselves with “yes” men or women. We need to spend time with people who will tell us the truth, and be honest with us. I think God’s done a very good job of surrounding me with people who think I’m an idiot, so that helps… :-)
      Thanks for posting!

      • Oscar

        Yes! Diversity of opinion generally strengthens teams and sharpens/edifies one another. Good leaders are wise to strategically surround themselves with people whose perspectives differ from their own. It may not always be the most efficient path, but likely the most excellent.

  • Scott Boggs

    Good Word. I always have had this insecurity that when I speak in public or lead a worship song that I may be like one of those people who were being rejected on American Idol. You know, the ones who were really bad but had absolutely no idea of it. They actually thought they were good and the rest of us were laughing and scratching our heads saying “Did they seriously think they were going to go somewhere with this?” It’s been a a lot of trial and error over the years but I believe I am doing better with each opportunity given to me. I wouldn’t say I was a Chris Tomlin or Joel Osteen but I can get by lol…. I tend to get pretty good feedback. Much needed considering one of my prominent love languages is “Words of Affirmation.” Good word. It made me stop and reflect on my own humility and prides. Hopefully becoming a little more self aware.

    • “Stop and reflect on my own humility and pride.” That was the key line Scott. A really terrific reminder. That just may become a new year’s resolution for me…
      Thanks for the comment!

  • While I was working in radio I had several people telling me I was the best voice on-air, not only on our station, but in the city. Thankfully I understood that those who thought I was the worst voice on radio probably weren’t likely to wander up and tell me that. I was encouraged by those who liked what I did but I was realistic enough to know that wasn’t the whole story.

    • Wow. Simple, but great advice Rodney. So true – your critics will be less upfront with you, and if you just believe the good press, you’ll get off track pretty quickly.
      Thanks for adding that…