Life Comes Down to Self-Awareness
Over the years I’ve witnessed people struggle. I’ve struggled in several areas of my own life. When I reflect on my struggles and the struggles of others, I’ve realized that it comes down to one simple concept, self-awareness.
When I began my transition from the military, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life. I lived in Colorado Springs, the home of the US Olympic committee. I’ve been involved in competitive sports my entire life to include the collegiate level. I’ve always been enamored with the Olympic movement and respected any athlete or coach that found themselves participating at the Olympic level.
One afternoon, I learned of a job opening at the US Olympic Headquarters. It involved drug testing and participating in the drug testing policy of our Olympic athletes. I thought this might be a perfect opportunity for me to insert myself into the Olympic process. I submitted an application and even secured an interview with the hiring committee. I was excited to get on the phone with four other US Olympic Committee executives and was confident I could win them over; however, the interview only lasted five minutes, once the committee realized I never competed at the Olympic level. It was embarrassing as they politely thanked me for my time and notified me that I was not qualified for the position since I never competed in the Olympics. In my excitement to be a part of something I respected, I failed to even realize the basic requirement of being a former Olympian to even hold the position. I lacked self-awareness.
I’ve worked with people who lacked self-awareness. They thought they knew more than they did, they felt they were qualified to offer an opinion when they weren’t and they embarrassed themselves by pushing their opinions into a situation that didn’t belong. Unfortunately, I’ve done this on several occasions, especially when I was younger and trying to make my mark. I’ve applied for job positions that I wasn’t qualified for, because I was confident I could do the job anyway. I’ve said things in meetings that I had no right saying, because I thought I had the experience and credentials to back it up, when I didn’t. I’ve been arrogant and foolish at different points in my life and I’ve paid the price.
Self-awareness is fully understanding a situation and your place in it. It means knowing when to speak up and when to remain quiet, to offer an opinion or to accept valid criticism. It means knowing your place and accepting your role in that moment. Life is about picking your moments. Those that are self-aware pick their moments wisely, and when they do, they do it with passion and perseverance.
I’m not saying you can’t take risks. That’s very much a part of life too, but even in risk taking, there is self-awareness. The difference is simple. Self-aware people take a risk fully understanding the consequences and are willing to accept them if they fail. The foolish jump into a risky situation not understanding what’s at stake and are mortified at the consequences when they fail. Don’t bee foolish, but strive to be self-aware.
Here are ten character traits of self-aware people, how many apply to you?
- Goal setting. Self-aware people have purpose and their actions are calculated and deliberate.
- Strengths focused. They understand their strengths. Self-aware people know their weaknesses, but embrace their strengths. Rather than focus on their weaknesses, they leverage their strengths to achieve success.
- Advice seekers. Self-aware people are not loners. They’re good net-workers. They understand their limitations and surround themselves with people that make up for those weaknesses.
- Focused. Self-aware people specialize, they don’t generalize. Thy’re busy, but not on things that don’t make a difference. They choose their tasks wisely.
- No complaints. People who are self-aware rarely whine about life, because they’re too busy finding solutions. They don’t fill their days with things they can’t control, but instead focus on tasks where they can make a difference.
- Add value. They constantly seek ways to uplift and enhance people around them and improve their situations. They invest in others; they don’t take away from others.
- Perspective. They have healthy perspectives in life. They understand the greater purpose and are not often swayed by the moment.
- Humble. They know how big the world is and how so much depends on a team and not one individual. They seek help, but not credit for accomplishments. They’re always quick to acknowledge others for successes.
- Momentum. Self-aware people understand the power of momentum, which is why they never stop moving towards their goals.
- Faith. They have faith in a higher power, something greater than them. They don’t try to take on the world alone or with their flawed relationships. They ultimately understand that putting their hopes and dreams in their Creator is the only path to ultimate success.
Becoming self-aware is a worthy goal that we all should strive for in life. Self-awareness is not easy, but possible if we simply slow down enough to recognize the main principles in life that make our journey meaningful and worth it in the end. How many of the character traits apply to you? Are you self-aware enough to admit how many you truly lack and are you willing to grow?