One of my favorite movie franchises is the Terminator series. In the franchise, the main antagonist of the movie is technically an artificial intelligence system called Skynet. Skynet is never truly depicted visually, but carries out its mission through servers, mobile devices, drones, military satellites, war-machines, androids, and cyborgs (terminators). When Skynet activates as a worldwide digital defense network by the US Military, something happens they weren’t expecting. Skynet becomes self-aware, realizes the extent of its own abilities, and begins to exterminate the human race in the interest of self-preservation. Much like Skynet, humans should evolve to possess self-awareness. Self-awareness could be the difference between your career and personal relationships stalling out, and truly leveraging everything YOU offer.
In my career, I’ve come across several professionals that lack self-awareness, myself included, and that weakness has hindered growth. Self-awareness is synonymous with humility. Without the ability to recognize, accept, and improve, there is no self-awareness—it can’t exist. Lacking the ability to recognize is naive, and lacking the acceptance to change is arrogant.
The cure for turnover
Have you ever had a manager that doesn’t know how to approach their employees to discuss areas of improvement? That manager probably has high turnover, and no awareness about how their approach is perceived among the team. Perhaps they have awareness that their approach is too abrasive, but no humility to admit it isn’t working. Without both recognition and humility, self-awareness won’t work to your advantage.
Do you struggle to create meaningful and productive relationships within your personal and professional life? Do you rotate through jobs and friends? Perhaps there is something you’re doing that turns people off. I’ll admit, it is a tough question to ask oneself, but worth it. I’ve had to wrestle with that question throughout my career.
Over the years, I’ve struggled to maintain positive relationships with my co-workers. It has taken many years of self-realization, practice, and mentor guidance to realize that I can rub people the wrong way. I’m overly charismatic, sarcastic, and tend to be off-putting to people who don’t know my style. This realization, and subsequent self-awareness, has allowed me to change my approach without changing who I am. Self-awareness takes practice, and with it comes the ability to look within yourself and take an honest inventory of your strengths and weaknesses.
Ways to improve your self-awareness
Do you have a mentor in your life? Ask them, “How do you think my co-workers/friends/family see me?” This type of discussion requires two things from you: listening and reflection. Without listening, the feedback will fall on deaf ears, and typically involve some type of “taking offense.” Without reflection, you cannot truly look at yourself with humility and make changes that could help your future.
How to humble yourself in front of your employees
During a one-on-one session, ask your employee what you can do differently to motivate them or add value to their time with you. Admit that you know you’re not perfect and everyone has room to improve. Tell them you value their opinion and would encourage any feedback they provide. Allow them a safe space to give constructive criticism. Listen and reflect on what they say, and under no circumstance should you take offense. They could provide you valuable feedback of which you were previously unaware.
When you listen and reflect, you can then make changes that have a positive effect on your relationships and career. It doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to change how you are perceived. Most of the time, small changes can make big differences, and big differences can mean a better career path, improved relationships, and ultimately, a more fulfilling life.
When you become self-aware, you can say, “Hasta la vista, baby” to those things that might get you “terminated.”
For other workplace insights and management tips, like how to Hire Premier Talent in the Midst of a Talent Shortage, click here
About the author:
Based in the downtown Chicago office, Kevin is a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where he was a three year member of the University Choir and Tau Kappa Epsilon National Fraternity. He began his recruiting career in 2006 at a large national staffing firm specializing in finance placements, where he quickly became one of the top producers in the Chicago market. Kevin joined Parker + Lynch Consulting in June of 2015 and specializes in resource management, engagement delivery, and business development. Kevin spends most of his time with his four children and wonderful wife, Cindy, but also enjoys salmon fishing, watching sports, and being a member of Calvary Church.