Hey, you did that on purpose!
That's the unexpected power of self-awareness
One of the greatest compliments I received was years ago from a young stranger at a coffee shop with whom I’d struck up a conversation.
After our short exchange, he got up to leave, shook my hand, and said, “I love your energy.”
Granted, we were talking about things I adore—communication and connection, emotional intelligence, and Brené Brown’s stance on vulnerability—and we quickly found common ground, so naturally, I was engaged and interested.
Still, his words affirmed me in more ways than one. You see, I choose to enter into new conversations with a sense of wonder and curiosity. And by doing that, I’m intentionally projecting positive energy that registers with others—and is contagious.
You might be surprised to learn that my behavior is a result of my self-awareness, a virtuous yet often misunderstood skill.
Because self-awareness isn’t just about knowing how you move through the world; it’s about knowing how your energy affects others.
(Read: It’s not just about you.)
This perspective allows you to understand that everything (your interactions with other people, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment) is connected and can be enhanced through better self-awareness.
So even if you think you’re self-aware, you might fall into the trap of focusing solely on yourself.
This can happen to even the savviest leaders among us, but the good news is that we can avoid making a massive mistake with a few simple steps.
Here’s how to become more selfless with your self-awareness:
Don’t assume that you know how others perceive you.
What we think we’re projecting and how others are receiving our energy can be two very different things. To bridge the gap, seek the input of others. Ask trusted colleagues how you came across in a meeting, and if it wasn’t what you intended, don’t beat yourself up; be more mindful before your next gathering.
Press the pause button.
Our never-ending activity often leaves us feeling stressed, and we can’t help but bring that negativity with us in our interactions with others. But by regularly hitting the proverbial pause button, you’ll allow yourself a few moments to reset before moving on to your next meeting—and leave your stress behind.
Hone your powers of observation.
How aware of you of others and your environment? The best way to increase your powers of observation is to pay attention. And spoiler alert, you can’t effectively do that when you’re multitasking. So get into the habit of putting down your phone and giving others your undivided attention. Listen to understand what they’re saying instead of using that time to formulate what to say next. Be genuinely curious. And pay attention not only to their words but their body language. If something seems incongruent, there’s a high likelihood that something is amiss.
Before you head into a team huddle, begin a pitch, or meet with a client, make a conscious choice about what energy you want to project and then do that. A huge part of self-awareness is being intentional about your state so you can positively affect others.
And speaking of being intentional…
Everyone wants to build a career they love, one that puts their talents to their highest and best use while achieving their professional goals.
But great careers don’t happen by accident; they’re built with intention.
And in my latest Forbes article, I share the three best ways to thoughtfully curate yours.
How do you know you’re operating from an unintentional place?
When your career starts to feel like Groundhog Day on repeat.
Unfortunately, it also means you’ve reached a professional plateau.
ICYMI, in my recent Forbes article, shared the seven best ways to get moving again to make progress.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or practicing selfless self-awareness, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders craft their stories to communicate and connect better, magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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