How do you want to be remembered both at work and home? That buzz word “self-awareness” is going around like wildfire, but most of us don’t have a clue what it’s all about. We think we’re more thoughtful, that we’re better listeners, we’re authentic, and we understand our emotional intelligence. But most of us are all pretty rubbish at it. Recent research suggests that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 12% really are. We don’t have to look very far from the tree to find family members, friends, colleagues, political figures and very famous people who display a complete lack of awareness and how they come across to others.
The most notable person I can think of right now, who lacked self-awareness, was Prince Andrew. For those who don’t know, he’s from the British Royal Family. Prince Andrew fuelled the flames of discontent with the public in an interview he did with the BBC back in 2019. It was meant to be an interview to draw a line on his friendship with the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. It did the complete opposite. He lacked the necessary self-awareness skills and only made things worse. It was the complete lack of empathy he showed for Epstein’s victims, which had been the loudest point of condemnation among viewers and the press. The interview was dubbed an unmitigated disaster, which led to the prince being presumably sacked from royal duties by his own mother, the Queen. His total lack of self-awareness destroyed his name within minutes. It is unlikely he will ever perform any royal public responsibilities again.
For some people, developing self-awareness won’t matter. They view themselves as fundamentally unaffected by what other people think of them. But these little things add up, forming a reputation that grows over time. For example, the former POTUS, Donald Trump doesn’t care what other people think of him, he has the personality that thrives attention, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s negative or positive. Trump plays a brilliant game in politics just like he did on his reality show “The Apprentice”. Trump knows what shocking remarks to make to affect his ratings. What will be of interest, though, is how he will go down in history and how the world remembers him?
Another prominent figure that lacked self-awareness and angered the public in 2020 was the former British prime minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings. During the COVID pandemic, the UK people were asked to endure many travelling restrictions for the greater good of the community. Many couldn’t visit their loved ones, nobody could see the sick, and tens of thousands died an excruciating illness alone. Families couldn’t have proper funerals or touch their loved ones to say their last goodbyes. During the entire UK lockdown, the press revealed later that Cummings, the guy that put together the rules then broke them himself. He drove 260 miles to his second home when his wife fell ill. After getting caught out, his shameful interview became even more ridiculous when he also admitted to driving another 30 miles with his family to a tourist spot to “test his eyesight.” Cummings showed no regret for his actions. What Cummings failed to see was that millions were sacrificing so much for the greater good while he believed he could get away with it. Dominic Cummings refused to resign but left Downing Street on Friday, the 13th November 2020 for the last time after it appeared he lost a power struggle within the Conservative Party. Cummings could go down in history as the man who wrecked the lockdown rules in Britain during the worst pandemic of the century.
TV Broadcaster and Journalist Piers Morgan thrives on controversial topics. It’s what makes his career. However back in March 2021 the broadcaster stormed off set live on-air after being called out by his co-anchor Alex Beresford for his continuous bullying and thrashing attitude towards the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. It’s not the first time Piers Morgan has got himself in hot water. Morgan has had it in for Megan Markle since she “ghosted” him after they met in a pub one evening. After being ignored and not getting an invite to the wedding, Morgan took a disliking to Markle continuously trouncing her, but one morning he took it a step too far when he ridiculed the Duchess of Sussex and the state of her mental health. OFCOM the UK’s communications regulator received over 57,000 complaints about the comments Piers Morgan made on the show, and his six-year reign on the show came to a crashing end. His comments cost him his job. While Morgan has every right to question the claims of Megan Markle and Prince Harry, his remarks on her mental state crossed a very dangerous line.
Self-awareness is so vital in life; it has become known as the meta-skill of the 21st century. The late Mary Angelou, an American poet, singer, and writer once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that’s very important because people want to be remembered for the good things they did in life. People won’t forget the stunt Trump pulled during the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. The former POTUS stood in front of the church holding up a Bible, while the police and federal army were throwing tear gas at innocent citizens a few blocks away. The final straw came on the 6th of January 2021 when he addressed thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol and demand congress overturn his reelection loss, prompting a riot that resulted in five people dying. On the 13th of January 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump a second time. He is the only president in the country’s 245-year history to be impeached twice. Your reputation matters in life. Keep that in mind when you step outside the front door today and every other day.
One of the most robust books I have ever read that relates to your reputation is a book called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. It’s a genius book, and it must be in the top 100 personal development books of all time. The second habit has stuck with me for years, “Begin with the end in mind”. Covey asks the reader to imagine you’re at a funeral, but this one is different because it’s your own funeral. What are your friends saying about you at your funeral? What do you have to say about yourself? Did you live a wholesome life? Do you want to say you were a good person to your partner, brothers, sisters, friends, work colleagues, etc.? Will you be known as a person who added value to society? If that’s the case, are you doing the things now that will allow them to say that? Are you doing good in the world? Almost every one of us will have to readjust how we live when we ask, “how do you want to be remembered”?
Self-awareness means you have a firm understanding of who you are as a person and how you connect to the world you live in. Self-awareness is having a clear perception of you–your personality, which includes your strengths, weaknesses, values, principles, beliefs, feelings, thoughts and emotions. Once you understand the real you, what drives and inspires you, the easier it will be to focus your energy on what’s important to you and where you want to go in life.
When we become more self-aware, we make sounder decisions; we can communicate and network more effectively and build stronger relationships. We’re less likely to tell lies or cheat, and we become more authentic. Becoming more self-aware allows you to relate better to yourself, your family, partner, friends, colleagues, direct reports and superiors. Not developing self-awareness can lead to mental and physical problems, including increased stress, resentment, anxiety, decreased motivation, and a greater likelihood of getting fired. Self-awareness is the cardinal rule to grow as a person.
The most outstanding leaders understand and know themselves very well. They speak with sincerity, admit their mistakes, and are self-confident. The more you heed attention to your emotions, the better you understand why you do the things the way you do, which is key to your wellbeing, your relationships and your success. Self-awareness is the key driver to shifting your performance from good to great.
The need for self-awareness extends to every area of your life, both at home and in the workplace. If you want to know more about Self Awareness you can pick up all the steps in my book No Limits – The Secrets and Skills of Successful People. I give you some great insights into how to develop this mega skill. Don’t let the lack of self-awareness become your downfall.