For some time, I wondered how the Live in Self initiative will assist me in my professional life. One week, I was fortunate to attend a Leadership Symposium where senior executive leaders come and share their experiences with growing into a leader and performing as a leader. An executive highlighted that the key tenet of leadership is knowing your inner self. All this time, I had been thinking that Live in Self needed to be a private endeavor of mine separate from my professional life! I was encouraged and delighted that a senior leader had encouraged us to find ourselves and to then lead through honest and authentic expressions of ourselves.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Knowing yourself intimately means you are certain about who you are and what you stand for. It means you can state a personal vision, mission, and core values. What is the purpose for being able to state each of these? Your core values keep you grounded in your current words and actions. Your mission describes what you are doing today. Your vision describes where you are going.
In doing some research, this idea of understanding oneself can be done through a simplistic and older models such as the Johari window. When we look at the Johari method, there are four categories of self: 1) Known Self – things we know about ourselves and others know about us 2) Hidden Self – things we know about ourselves that others do not know 3) Blind Self – things others know about us that we do not know and 4) Unknown Self – things neither we nor others know about us. Having this level of self-awareness improves our understanding of our strengths. There are a number of processes and tools one can use to assist in strength identification. A recommended tool is the StrengthsFinder personality test. This can help us reflect on what our top strengths are and to begin the journey of increasing the probability for success in small and big endeavors. Some 360-degree feedback would also shed light on the hidden self or the blind self.
In the process of identifying our strengths, we also by default identify weaknesses which form our blind spots as we go through life. Another senior leader emphasized that, in general, people do not change a lot throughout their lives and as a leader, we should draw on what is within people. This is congruent with the idea that we are good enough just as we are. It opposes the idea that we should waste time trying to put into people what is not already there.
After we learn about our own strengths, a logical follow-on step as a leader is to learn about the strengths (and weaknesses) of people around us. When you know who you are, you can begin to look outward and empower people around you to reach their highest potential by utilizing their strengths.
The process of knowing oneself, improving oneself (leading oneself), and complementing oneself (looking outward) is a marathon.
I realized that the majority of highly successful people had learned early in their career about strength magnification and had been using this to propel them into experiences in which they thrived. Join me in running the course!
Realize and internalize that the definition of self never stops. Defining ourselves is a lifelong dynamic process. The more we know, the better we do. As we progress through life through various levels of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development, our sense of self will continue to be refined and matured.
Let’s walk through these levels of development/existence:
PHYSICAL: Here, a person derives their sense of fulfillment and competency from positive physical achievements (i.e. sports, violence) but quickly realizes that someone who is stronger or an injury can take away this sense of fulfillment leaving one feeling weak. In college, I noticed that many athletes existed in this realm.
MENTAL: Here, a person derives their sense of fulfillment and competency from successful use of their brain power but realizes over time that mental capacity can fade and smarter people can take away this sense of fulfillment leaving one feeling inadequate. We see this mental existence clearly when someone of great academic success suddenly loses their ability to be accomplished.
EMOTIONAL: Here, a person derives their sense of fulfillment and competency from the love and emotional support of others, but this too can be taken away at a moment’s notice. During a breakup or in loss, we can see how much someone is defined by the emotional support of another human being. It is the prolonged reliance upon this that can be limiting.
SPIRITUAL: Here, a person recognizes that personal fulfillment is realized through freedom from the world. This is sometimes referred to as enlightenment. We realize the true self does not require rationalization or justification. When you reach this stage, the natural attributes of your authentic and true self manifest in your daily experience.
Many people associate spirituality with a particular religion but when you can exist through experiences that demonstrate your authentic and true self, I think you are living a spiritually charged life. It is this kind of life that transcends age and accomplishment. When you live a spiritual life, you live freely.
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven author who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.