In this episode, Tasha Eurich describes concepts from her book Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think. Eurich explains how developing self-awareness—knowing who we are and how others see us—can help you be fulfilled, confident, and successful in life and work.
“As an organizational psychologist—and intuitively—I’ve always believed that self-awareness was an important skill. But as an executive coach, I’ve come to realize it is an essential skill. I wanted proof, so I started researching the concept.”
Eurich’s research shows that self-awareness is the foundation for high performance, smart choices, and lasting relationships. It also shows that most people don’t see themselves as clearly as they could. “Our data reveals that 95 percent of people believe they are self-aware, but the real number is 12 to 15 percent,” she says. “That means, on a good day, about 80 percent of people are lying about themselves—to themselves.”
There are two parts to self-awareness: internal and external. Internal self-awareness means knowing your values and personality strengths and weaknesses. External self-awareness means knowing how other people see you. The two parts are independent of each other. A person can be high or low on both scales, or high on one and low on the other.
Fortunately, self-awareness is a skill that can be developed—all it takes is a willingness to improve. Critical elements include questioning your assumptions about yourself and asking for feedback. Most people don’t like hearing feedback, but pushing past this discomfort is one of the first steps on the journey to self-awareness.
Eurich identifies a phenomenon she calls cult of self as a global problem. “Think about the way people use social media. They don’t post bad news—only great news. It can take so much effort to make ourselves seem a certain way that we become disconnected from who we really are,” she explains. “We each have a choice between being a meformer—just talking about ourselves, or an informer—focusing on what we do, how we can add value to the world, and what we learn from people around us.”
Self-serving behavior shows up in the workplace when people are not authentic and not open to feedback. The most productive work environments, according to Eurich, are built around people being humble, open, honest, and willing to learn and grow.
“A surprising finding centers on people who spend a lot of time in self-reflection. We assume they would be more self-aware, but it isn’t true. Some people spend so much time ruminating on the negative that it actually damages their self-awareness. The key to effective self-reflection is to think about something for a defined period of time and then make a decision, not to beat yourself up. For example, instead of focusing on why you may have done something, think about what you can do differently next time or what kind of support you need. Self-reflection should move you forward productively.”
To apply this concept in the workplace, leaders must model self-awareness behaviors. First, ask for feedback from every member of the team. Create a safe environment for people to share their truth when giving feedback. Most important, make sure this is a continuous practice—not just an activity at a retreat.
Eurich offers one last piece of advice. “Working on your self-awareness will put you ahead of 80 percent of your colleagues. It is the secret ingredient. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do it quickly—be open to what people tell you so that you can make a significant improvement.”
About The Ken Blanchard Companies
The Ken Blanchard Companies is the global leader in management training. For 40 years, Blanchard has been creating the best managers in the world, training over 150,000 people each year. From the award-winning First-time Manager program—based on the best-selling business book, The New One Minute Manager®—to SLII®, the most widely taught leadership model in the world, Blanchard is the provider of choice for Fortune 500 companies as well as small to medium businesses, government agencies, and educational and nonprofit organizations.
About Tasha Eurich
For more information on Tasha Eurich, and to take a free self-awareness quiz, go to www.insight-quiz.com.