9 Elements of Success: Self-Knowledge

Future VisionA person who has good self-knowledge knows what matters most to them, their strengths, their challenge areas, their values and needs, what they hate, what they love, where they shine and where they struggle. How well do you know yourself? 

In our busy, busy, stimulation-filled world with so many demands and distractions it can be a real challenge to turn your focus to yourself. Why bother with self-knowledge? Why add more to your overflowing to-do list? 

Self-knowledge is your compass, your guide for making informed decisions and good choices. When you are out of touch with what you want, need and value, you become vulnerable to reacting to whatever presents itself in your life. For example, I was scheduling presentations about office organizing because it was a subject matter that decision-makers in corporations and companies were seeking and willing to pay for. I hated doing speeches about office organizing, and consequently dreaded doing those speeches. I consequently did not speak as well to those audiences. 

When I examined my dislike for office organizing speeches and how I speak in business settings I realized I have no real interest in and passion for sharing information about office organizing.  I also became aware that I’m not a big fan of speaking in businesses  because many people in attendance are not there voluntarily. Rather, they attend because they are expected to be there. They come to those seminars feeling unmotivated, uninterested, and/or distracted by other things they need to do. People with those characteristics don’t make good audiences, the kind that respond to speech content with interest and enthusiasm and motivate me to do my best speaking.

Once I became clear about my dislike for doing office organizing presentations and how my speaking is affected by the energy and interest of audiences, I was able to cease scheduling speeches on that topic and spend my marketing and speaking efforts to attract and schedule topics and audiences that are a good fit for me. I now enjoy ALL the speaking I do. 

Self-knowledge is a way to create self-acceptance. When you are clear about your interests, passions, strengths and challenge areas you are then in a position to accept what you cannot change instead of trying to be interested in things that don’t interest you or be good at things that you’ll never be good at. 

I have great difficulty working with numbers. Because I don’t have a natural aptitude in that area, I am easily overwhelmed when dealing with numbers. I also noticed that I was spending inordinate amounts of time when I would be paying bills and balancing my books. 

When I accepted that working with numbers is very difficult, overwhelming, and uncomfortable for me, and an area of activity that always left me feeling incompetent, I was in a better position to seek support with paying my bills and keeping my books instead of beating my head up against the same brick wall over and over again. I accepted that it’s in my best interest to get help to do tasks involving numbers. No longer did I waste time trying to be competent in an area where I cannot be competent. And, no longer did I beat myself up for not measuring up in that area.

Self-knowledge helps you set realistic expectations.

Knowing where you shine and where you struggle can help you know set realistic expectations for performance and productivity. For example, if you have ADHD and understand the challenges of time management, activation, organizing and emotion management that are associated with that neurobiological disorder, you will know expecting yourself easily engage in paper intensive and boring tasks is not realistic. Given your brain wiring it’s doubtful that even with great effort you will be able to engage in those activities with minimal resistance.

Self-knowledge informs you of where you need support.

Knowing your areas of struggle, disinterest, and/or resistance will make it possible to identify when it’s best to stop spinning your wheels in procrastination by seeking outside help.

I hate cleaning the house. 

Making time for house cleaning was very difficult given my complicated schedule and overloaded to-do list. If I finally did it, I felt resentful and angry. If I didn’t do it I’d be irritable and distracted by the accumulating dust and dirt. Plus, it really wasn’t the best use of my time with other higher priorities like running my business and spending quality time with family and friends.

With that information I knew that if I continued to clean my house I’d die of exhaustion and/or have no time for what really matters to me: building and running a successful business that helps people get unstuck and moving; enjoying deep connection and supporting family and friends; and creating space for self-reflection, self-care and self-awareness.

Self-knowledge is a way to step into your own shoes, to ground yourself to face any circumstance that comes your way.

Life constantly throws curve balls. It’s quite common to become ungrounded and off balance when you experience an unexpected hit or life turn, like finding out you have an illness, learning of an unexpected expense or being informed that a parent is struggling and in need of services and assistance. To expect anything different is not realistic. 

When you are aware of your gifts, strengths, and previous history of successes despite struggle, you can better manage your fear by reminding yourself that you are capable of either handling any challenge or of seeking support to find solutions to problems.

I have been involved in coordinating care for my mother who has Alzheimer’s. Her physical and mental challenges can amp up at any time. Before I became conscious of how I can call on my strengths of organizing, self-soothing, problem-solving with love as a guide, using my determination to effect changes on her behalf, and recognizing my choices in the moment, any new challenge could knock my sideways, sending me into feelings of overwhelm and depression.

One day when I was once again disconnected from myself, from my strengths and my awareness of choice, a wise friend reminded me that I don’t have to go down with Mom when she’s struggling, that going down is a choice. Now knowing that I am capable of making choices to calm myself, I more quickly handle uncomfortable feelings that surface when a new problem emerges. I am better able to call on resources that can restore my equilibrium and get me back on track.

Self-knowledge is a resource at your disposal that makes navigating life a more purposeful, smoother ride. How well do you know yourself? Are there areas of self-awareness that are blocked or limited that if expanded would arm you to move forward in your life with more confidence and competence?

If you know there is room for exploration in this element of success, coaching could be just the support you need to develop greater self-knowledge so you can get unstuck and more effectively navigate through the uneven waters of life to a create an empowered life that fits. If you want a partner to help you develop greater self-knowledge, email me to schedule a 30 minute free consolation to discuss this possibility. 

Self-knowledge is the foundation that makes all change possible.