I see self-awareness in terms of feedback. The importance of feedback is acknowledged in skills development so that we can recognise where we are going wrong and make adjustments. I often use the example of skateboarding and the instant feedback one gets when falling off. Optimising feedback in work environments (polite, earnest and helpful feedback) is critical for people and teams to adjust.

Self-awareness is being proactively attuned to feedback from our actions. What did we think, say, or do, in a specific situation which lead to the feedback we received by our senses. How did this align with my expectations? What is in my control and what is the result of system complexities in my environment?

Self-awareness is the finesse, the fine tuning of our senses and what we are paying attention to in our body and our environment, along with well developed schemas or mental representations of human behaviour and interactions. It's an ability that can be deliberately practiced - by paying more attention to our senses, and learning more about human behaviour. Like an skill or ability, it also helps if we are in an environment where this topic is talked about, prioritised, and where people's development at their own pace is supported.

Personally I think it's value is underemphasised in the workplace, not only in terms of personal development but also in organisational development.

Expand full comment