Self-awareness is the most critical life skill — or hack — that an individual can learn in life. And like anything in life that holds so much value, it’s incredibly challenging.
It’s not easy to evaluate who you are with an in-depth analysis. Strengths and weaknesses.
But if we want to become the greatest version of ourselves and to maximize our potential and talent — the practice of pure self-awareness is necessary to this process.
The self-awareness process is the basketball player working on adding a move to his game. It’s an artist adding more depth to their work. Or the writer who is in search of ways to become better with their words. Anyone in any industry on a journey to mastering their craft.
Taking the time to develop ourselves and build self-awareness is not easy, but the downside of ignoring this process is too dangerous.
The downside is the star wide receiver who, after years of dominating on the field, has lost all sense of reality with the real world off the field — even if he loses life-changing money because of his behavior. Think Antonio Brown.
It’s the movie star who has forgotten where they came from before their fame and attention. The life long politician who forgot what it was like to have a 9–5 job. Or, it’s the young superstar of any industry who thinks their success has made them flawless in all other aspects of their life.
In all these cases, self-awareness is missing.
Self-awareness is like a garden. It takes maintenance and care. You must tend to it regularly, nourish it, and feed it properly — or the garden grows with weeds and slowly takes over the beautiful parts of the garden.
When you have self-awareness, you keep the garden nourished, watered, healthy, and looking beautiful. It maintains that healthy look and continues to grow and flourish.
Here are four ways to develop more self-awareness in your life and help you better understand who you are and what needs attention.
Ask Yourself Questions With Curiosity
“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” — Francis Bacon
Asking yourself great questions is a constant process that never ends. Developing this practice is a skill in itself, one that is often overlooked or ignored in life. Being willing to ask tough questions about ourselves, our habits, and our actions are vital to our improvements.
Questions serve as the driving force behind our deep search inside our soul — which is a path we all need to explore.
Anybody who thinks they know who they truly are is probably either naive or has lived a long full life. Genuinely knowing who we are, takes deep invasive search into one’s soul.
Are you willing to do that?
It’s not easy. It’s not always pretty. It doesn’t always lead to the answers you assumed or thought. And it certainly won’t always lead to the answers that you want.
In fact, in my own experience, asking these deep and compelling questions about ourselves has led to extremely painful conclusions of myself. Not in a way that makes you hate yourself, instead of in a way that demands something more of yourself, because you now hold the deep and powerful truth from within yourself.
Be Willing to Admit When You’re Wrong
“The secret to being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal.”― Seth Godin
Admitting when you are wrong, is excruciatingly painful. There is no other way to describe it. It does not taste well under any circumstance.
But if we are to find self-awareness in our lives, we must realize that we will be wrong, more times than we want to admit. We will have to change our minds about things that we are so sure about at the moment.
Admitting we are wrong isn’t a lack of confidence or lacking a backbone, its recognition of maturity towards this simple fact: nobody is always right.
Being able to admit when you’re wrong is an act of vulnerability, which is rarely accepted, but is extremely powerful. This little act makes us better, more genuine, and provides something for the people around us that they know they can count on us. Not because we were wrong — because we are willing to admit we were wrong.
It’s what makes better leaders. Who wants to be led by someone who thinks there is only one way to do everything: their way. That’s not confidence. It’s pride, arrogance, and delusional blindness.
You want to tap into the best version of yourself — through this process. You’re doing this for yourself and those who you love.
You have to be willing to admit when you’re wrong. Ready to accept failure. And willing to admit your flaws.
There is no easy way around this one. It stings, it rattles you, and it will scar at times. But it’s growth in ways that many people are never willing to experience.
Let Go of the Ego
We all have an ego. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
To admit that we are wrong, will only be possible if we are willing and able to conquer and tame this part of our self-awareness process.
The most common symbol of ego is the prideful and arrogant male. However, this is just one example of ego. It is not the full picture or the only version of it.
The fact that we are taking the time and effort to find self-awareness in our lives is why we must be on the lookout for this because if we aren’t careful ego can affect this. As Ryan Holiday, author of Ego is the Enemy writes,
“If ego is the voice that tells us we’re better than we really are, we can say ego inhibits true success by preventing a direct and honest connection to the world around us”
A ‘direct and honest connection’ is what we are so diligently working towards finding. Without it, we do not have self-awareness. So, in reality, ego is what stands in the way of our connection to understanding ourselves and having a complete awareness possible.
Ego prevents. Ego is an obstructive part of the process that prevents us from progress. It can hurt us at many different stages within our lives. Whether we are aspiring or facing failure — ego will work to bring us down.
Our only way to truly get to self-awareness is to allow ego to fade into the distance like a passing car. Let it go. Move it aside. Do whatever it takes to remove this noisy and destructive companion.
Be Willing To Learn Forever
Self-awareness requires us to be constant learners. It demands of us to keep learning and growing. It won’t take no for an answer — if we are to continue our process of pure self-awareness.
Learning acts as the engine of this process. Our ability to learn and make adjustments along the way — to see what we need to gain more knowledge and awareness in — serves as the catalyst in this journey.
We can’t quit learning. No matter how much we think we know about life and people, we are never going to master life.
If we are willing to work on the other parts — but not this one — it won’t matter. Stagnation will settle in, and our process will begin to stall and come to a screeching halt. We must keep fueling the engine with our continuous thirst to learn.
Self-awareness is a deep and soulful process that requires a crazy amount of hard and honest work. It has no finish line or end game. There is no mastery, no awards, or accomplishments that are represented by metal.
Instead, it’s painful, hard, and uncomfortable. It can be dark and a little too honest at times. It may reveal sides of us that we would rather not know about, but is required of us to become a better version of ourselves.
But the rewards are worth it. The results are more meaningful lives, more success, and more truth in our lives — which almost always results in better outcomes, better relationships, and more happiness.
Do the work it takes to develop a powerful self-awareness. It’s a skill that will never hurt you, and will only serve you in your journey.