Tag Archives: self-knowledge

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.

9 Elements of Success

Green treeSuccess isn’t a yes/no, right/wrong achievement. It can’t be attained by hard work alone. Many people operating from the “just work harder” school of thought have tried and failed. So, what really is necessary to achieve success in any endeavor you undertake?

My own life journey and my coach training have helped me get conscious about nine distinct elements of success. I share them as the beginning of an on-going conversation I plan to have with you in future blog posts.

  1. Self-knowledge: know your passions, your strengths, your needs and values, the areas where you struggle, what you avoid.
  2. Keep the big goal top of mind: identify what matters most and keep it conscious as you navigate through your days.
  3. Positive focus: look for the good in every experience, even challenging ones. What you focus on you attract more of.
  4. Self-care: good sleep, regular exercise, good hydration, good nutrition create the conditions for the best brain power, the best attitudes.
  5. Good boundaries: learn to say no, avoid taking on too much, giving too much to others to your own detriment.
  6. Continuous learning: look for the lessons. Learn from every situation, especially challenging ones.
  7. Support: get help in areas where you struggle, areas you hate, areas you avoid.
  8. Letting go: do your part and let go. You are responsible for the effort, not the outcome.
  9. Balance: avoid extremes — all work, no play; all play, no work. Avoid black and white thinking and engaging. Go for gray. Find a balance. 

Working with these elements is part of the program I offer coaching clients. They can become the building blocks for consciously living an empowered life of your choosing. Instead of just floating down the river of life at the whim and mercy of events and those around you, consider these elements to be strong trees on the bank of the river. They can help shape your perspectives and guide your thoughts and feelings to personal and professional success.

In upcoming blog posts I will be writing about each of these elements in more detail. Stay tuned!

Crises: Opportunities to Get Clarity About Your Values

DSCN0244“Big rocks” are those areas of your life that are most important. My big rocks include my family (including furry family members), my marriage, my health and personal growth, my friends, and my business. I spend most of my time and energy on my “big rocks.” Sometimes I must choose which rock is most important. When that happens, I view it as a self-knowledge learning opportunity.

This past Monday I was scheduled to work with two coaching clients. However, when I had lunch with my mother at her assisted living facility, it was very apparent that the tumble she’d taken out of her bed the day before had left her in significant hip pain. I had been told that an x-ray of her hip was scheduled for that afternoon. So, I returned her to her room after lunch and set off to call the first client.

Before making that call I checked with the doctor’s office to verify that it would in fact happen that day. I didn’t want Mom hurting for long. And, I was concerned that she might actually have fractured her hip. I was given the phone number of the imaging company that would do the x-ray, and  was told they’d never received the order, from either the assisted living facility or from the doctor’s office. There I was, due to call a client in ten minutes and in the middle of an administrative debacle regarding my mother’s care.

I was at a choice point between two of my “big rocks”: my family and my work (means of fiscal survival). Plus I was mad as hell! What to do? The super-responsible worker part of me was on auto-pilot, proceeding with the work, planning to make that call. That part of me wanted to be the reliable, conscientious coach, a person of high integrity. But, when I factored in my emotional state (mad as hell!), I quickly came to the conclusion that I was not in a good place emotionally, and my ability to be the attentive source of support my client needed and deserved had been compromised both by my feelings of anger and my concern for my mother.

Looking back, I realize that what had emerged in that crisis was awareness of my strong value of working with integrity and my equally strong value of family. Awareness of those values and the weight of those values helped inform my decision to cancel my coaching client and return to help my mother get the care she needed. And, I also learned that family trumps work anytime!

What values are guiding your decisions? Times of crisis, difficult as they are, can in hindsight be great opportunities for awareness of your most important values. Knowing  your values arms you to make good decisions.

**If you are curious about learning more about your values, I would be happy to send you a copy of a “Values & Needs Exercise” I received in coach training with Coach Approach. Email me to request that exercise at debbie@debbiebowie.com.

Self-Knowledge: The Key to Creating a Life That Fits

How well do you know yourself? I have done lots of self-help exploration, therapy and coaching, and I am amazed that I can still discover things I don’t know about myself. For example, I’m at the beach with my mother. I just happened to schedule our trip on the week of the East Coast Surfing Championship. So, there are surfers everywhere! It’s been such fun to watch the surfing, see the surfers hauling their boards to and from the water, cramming boards into elevators, and riding bikes with boards in their arms.

As I’ve observed the surfers I’ve noticed similarities among surfers, and have become fascinated with deciphering the “type” of person who is drawn to surfing. What I’ve seen so far is that males dominate the sport. Most are young, slender, physically fit (great bodies!), medium height, and they have great balance and persistence. This is a sport dominated by young, athletic, focused, independent men who are not deterred by being knocked down by waves. They keep getting back up over and over again, perfecting their technique. Surfers are not quitters. They fall. They get back up. I wonder how this translates into the rest of their lives. What effect does that level of commitment to their sport have in their personal and professional lives?

Today as I gazed at surfers from my hotel window, it occurred to me that my fascination with surfers is not an isolated event. There have been other times when I’ve gotten a “type” of person in my sights and have watched them with the curiosity of a detective. I’ve been aware that I love watching people, observing their behavior, and trying to make sense of it. But today I learned that though I love watching people, what really floats my boat is looking for patterns, similarities among people committed to the same type of endeavor. What’s the profile of a surfer, a dancer, a doctor, an entertainer? What do members of the type have in common physically, mentally, emotionally and in their values?

Being a curious observer is who I am. It probably initially germinated from my need for safety, for the shy little girl that I was to make sense of her world and be able to predict how others would behave. Now that behavior reflects my commitment to the value of respect. I respect others for who they are, and enjoy observing them living their lives and their passions.

Why is this little piece of self-knowledge important? The more I know about myself, my values and needs, the more equipped I am to make good decisions on my behalf. With self-knowledge I can be clear when it’s in my best interest to say no to a request for my time. I can make good decisions in my personal life and about the direction of my business. I can make good choices about where to put my energy and with whom to socialize. Self-knowledge makes creating a life that fits possible.

Watch yourself today. What lights your fire? What blows out the flame? Make increasing your self-knowledge your new commitment, and you’ll be better able to design the life you really want to have.