Win Today with Christopher Cook

Your Roadmap to Wholeness (From the Inside Out).

One of the Greatest Keys You’ll Gain this Year

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Leaning into a brand-new year, one of the best personal growth keys you and I should pursue is a healthy amount of self-awareness in our everyday lives and in our personal and professional pursuits. Put simply, without self-awareness, we are tricking ourselves into living-out life through the perception of reality instead of reality. Conversely, when we’re not tricking ourselves, we are putting ourselves in a position to grow and ultimately succeed.

Fundamentally, self-awareness is an honest understanding of your personal habits, strengths, areas in which you need growth, your way of perceiving life, as well as an awareness of your emotional default in the circumstances of life. Simply put, the more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting to change, growing steadily, and measuring your personal growth. Another way of saying the same thing is the more you know about your own habits and proclivities, the easier it is to improve on those habits—and as I stated earlier—position yourself for success.

How do you become self-aware? One of the most effective and honest ways to do so is by inviting feedback into your life. Honest feedback. Really honest feedback.

15th Place Trophies

I grew up in a generation in which everyone got a trophy just for showing up. In T-ball, everyone was a winner, even if you came in 15th place. And while I am an enormous proponent of encouragement and empowerment, both of those valuable assets—without regular, honest feedback—mask blind spots in a person’s character. Worse yet, a sustained “everyone gets a trophy” culture supports mediocrity. The challenge, therefore, is to actively invite feedback into your life from people who know and love you the most. If you’re unsure about how to initiate such conversation, take this cue as a start:

[To your friend/colleague/family member]: I need you to be really honest with me. I know you care about me and I know this may be hard for you to do. But I absolutely need your honest, truthful feedback in order to grow and become the best I can be. How am I doing in [a particular area of life or skill set]? Do you think I’m capable of [achieving this goal]?

After having done so, take a deep breath, swallow hard, and make adjustments. Hear me out: this exercise isn’t to celebrate self-deprecation; it’s an honest growth tactic to keep you from living in a fantasy. A key benefit of inviting feedback into your life is that doing so keeps your “sword” sharp so-to-speak. Allow me to explain.

Keeping the Sword Sharp

You’ve probably heard the phrase “iron sharpens iron.” The phrase is found in Proverbs 27:17 (AMP): “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].” You see, there is mutual benefit in the collision of two blades; the edges become sharper, making the swords more efficient in their task to perform at a high capacity. Equally, the Word of God is a “double-edged sword” (See Hebrews 4:12), and it is from that foundation that we are to sharpen one another in the context of relationship.

I suppose it’s those iron-on-iron relationships that keep us honest and authentic; totally unlike the platform created by social media.

Are We Lying to Ourselves?

Thanks to social media, all of us have become our own public relations agency, tasked with publishing our most polished faces (and foods) for all the world to like, adore, comment, and even share. Heck, I’ve done it. Is there anything inherently wrong with it? No. But what troubles me about this trend, however, is the obsession with digital affirmation as a motivation for posting. Inevitably, if we don’t generate a response within a few minutes, we delete the post and try later, right? Why? Because we’re hooked on likes, comments, and retweets as a measure of our total worth and value. Yet all of this blinds us from apprehending the gift of self-awareness, honesty, and feedback (which ultimately leads to growth) in this very real, obstacle-riddled world.

Self-Awareness in Overcoming Obstacles

In a 2013 article published by The New York Times, the author cites a Harvard Business School theorist who studied how self-awareness aids one’s overcoming obstacles in life. In it, the author states:

“…Professor Argyris [the business theorist] called the most common response single loop learning—an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.

Less common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. In this mode we question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals. In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.”

Wrapping-Up The Package

I suppose what I’m after is the realization that we’re all in process. If we’re going to be our best for those who matter most in life, we do need encouragement and empowerment. But we also need a healthy dose of honest, love-motivated, truth-founded feedback. You see, we can gobble-up all the self-help guides and personal growth strategies money can buy, but if we don’t know ourselves well enough to put any of it into effective, specific practice, we’re wasting our time, effort, and money.

And while I still have the mic, I’ll just say it: When it comes to owning the selfie game, I want your real face, not your “duck face.” No one does that stuff off-camera. Be you. The real you.

Know this…

Self-awareness is not self-deprecation. Nor is it self-consciousness. Instead, self-awareness will keep you focused on that which matters most and keep you away from those things that will distract you from your purpose, allowing you to grow in areas of strength and at the same time be aware of your blind spots.