When you imagined being a leader in 2021, what came to mind? I thought gender and racial equity would be much further along, that I'd be using artificial intelligence a lot more, and that performance management would be a think of the past. Well here we are, and if 2020 has offered me anything in hindsight, it's that I plan on being much bolder in the new year. For 2021, I'm kicking off a Leader Skills Series, discussing the skills I believe are mission critical for the years ahead. And we're starting with awareness of self.
As we dive in, I'll share some examples of basic level skills and how they progress into more mastery level application. Try them out, share them with your team, and notice how they reflect or differ from what you've been taught a leadership looks like.
Leadership is about relationships. The first set of skills will be about your relationship to your self, the second will be about your relationship to others, and the third will be about your relationship to the system, team or organization you're in.
Self-awareness is your ability to observe your experience from multiple perspectives and understand the relationship among them. This includes:
Pause right now and ask yourself: What am I experiencing?
Notice which elements of self-awareness are easier for you and which are more challenging to describe. After you've practiced differentiating among the different elements, reflect on how they work together. How do your thoughts influence your emotions? Your emotions influence your behaviors? How did you become better at some - how have your cultural identities influenced this? Finally, note which elements are easier for your to express externally, and which you tend to not show as readily in different contexts...and why?
How else do you describe your experience? What other ways of knowing do you rely on to understand yourself? As you go about your day, notice how other people describe their experience. Do they use more "thought" words than "emotion"? Do they use colors, shapes, metaphors or local slang? Do they value one type of expression over another?
We are not separate from our environments ecosystems contrary to many centuries of information that declares we are. Studies in ecopsychology, indigenous wisdom about our relationship to our sense of place, and how the cosmos influence us are all ways of knowing about our experiences.
How are your physical cycles a part of your self-awareness (sleep, menstural, eating, etc.)? How does your astrology and the moon cycles affect you? How does the weather, land, and relationship with nature change relate to your sense of awareness? I just got a fabulous new journal to track my self-awareness in 2021 though there are many apps that can help you do the same.
One final note... 2020 was extraordinarily rough, and 2021 isn't going to be a walk in the park. Think about how your awareness of self is impacted by stress and trauma. Do your emotions feel stronger? Do you have trouble articulating your thoughts? Does your body feel more numb than usual? Balance your idea of your ideal self with how you actually are doing right now.
Turn inward and be a compassionate observer of the self. Take your time and let it be a joyful and process of self-discovery.
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