Looking To Improve Performance? Start With Self-Awareness

“The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.” Ever heard that? It’s most frequently associated with what was originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the twelve-step program. The same logic applies when it comes to our professional or personal development.

Without awareness of self, we have no way of knowing where the opportunities for growth and development lie.

9-5 game filmAthletes and coaches often use “game film” to watch a replay of what happened in the game or observe and learn about their opponent’s moves & strategies. The ability  to take a birds-eye view of what went wrong offers the opportunity to make adjustments in their approach (behaviors) so that they improve  the next time. Even slight tweaks can have a huge impact on results. When players are AWARE of what didn’t work, they can adjust accordingly.

The same concept applies to us at work. However, unless you were part of The Office and have documentary film footage of your 9-to-5 world for the last eight years, you don’t have the benefit of watching how you go about conducting our work. Therefore, another way to become self-aware is needed.

I have three suggestions for becoming Self-Aware:

  1. Ask for feedback – the best way to understand how you are being perceived by others, is to ask them. I know it could be scary because it requires that you be vulnerable – open to criticism. I think of it as BEING COURAGEOUS! You can get this feedback from a formal 360 Assessment or by asking those you work most closely with how you performed in a specific situation. You may find out that there is something you do that is really irritating or disruptive to another person and you had no idea of your impact. Now that you know, you can begin to work on it. Sometimes it’s as simple as “When you call me and I’m not available, leave a message so we avoid the back & forth phone tag.” Or “Don’t send me requests for information at the end of the day when you need it the following morning.”
  2. Take time to reflect – I know this may be a tall order for some because we are not a culture of stopping to reflect on our lives because we are too busy DOING. Let me say from experience, this THINK TIME is really helpful. Try building in some cushion between meetings so you have 5-10 minutes to just reflect on what happened, your role in the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of the meeting and learn from that experience. At least 70% of learning & development comes from on-the-job experience so take full advantage of those experiences!
  3. Write it down – This closely aligns with REFLECTING. Go a step further in just thinking about what happened and what you want to do differently in the future, by keeping a journal. Having one notebook or folder on your computure where you can keep a written record of what you learned is a great approach. It allows you to go back and look at lessons from the past that could be applied in a current situation.

The definition of being Aware is to be informed; alert; knowledgeable; sophisticated.

Why wouldn’t you want to be Self-Aware? Would you want to walk around all day with a “kick me” sign on your back? Of course not…if you knew it was there, you’d remove it.

If you know about what you should do differently, that’s the first step in making those needed adjustments. It’s that simple.

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter at mduesterhoft or connect via email at mduesterhoft@www.people-results.com.