Steven Covey has been quoted as saying, “Self-Awareness involves deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions.” I have dedicated September as the month for our journey through the importance of integrity in our leadership. In Fellowship of Christian Athletes, integrity serves as one of our main pillars toward seeing our vision – to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes – successfully implemented. This week I will expand on the importance of awareness in being a leader of integrity.
I can remember the first time I drove a car. There is something about driving for the first time that you become keenly aware of things one never observes as a passenger. I was now aware of names of streets, other cars, buildings, landscapes and people. They had always been there but now my view had changed. This is what self-awareness is… changing the view. How do we change our view in order to become more aware? Emotions, personality and reactions all play a major role in our awareness.
- Know your why. When we are confident in why we are where we are, or why we are doing something, it brings loads of clarity to our life. Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” People of the highest integrity know why they do things and lead from this position of strength.
- Ask hard questions. A lot of our awareness is built around asking hard questions of ourselves and others. Hard questions force us to think harder and deeper about who we are and what we truly believe. You might ask yourself the following: What is my ideal definition of success? Do I carefully consider other people’s suggestions before I dismiss them?
- Answer hard questions. Asking hard questions may be difficult for you, but answering them can prove to be even more difficult. I think it’s best to run answers through a few filters, such as your values, or how others might answer the same question about you. Journaling is always recommended – getting your answers down on paper helps you to process them more effectively.
- Notice warning signs. Being aware of the warning signs in regard to your emotions and how you react to situations can help head off any major issues. Does doing certain activities cause you to be angry or stressed? Be aware of the button-pushers in your life and leadership. What is your emotional kryptonite?
- Make adjustments. Great awareness allows for a greater ability to make adjustments. Being aware of the traffic around us allows us to adjust when needed. People of high integrity are not people who “dig in their heels,” they are people are aware of adjustments that may need to be made.
- Listen better… especially to feedback. Many have argued that feedback is the most important skill a leader need. When someone gives feedback to us, it is a great opportunity to build awareness. Hearing other perspectives helps us grow. Winston Churchill said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
- Be a planner. Writing out your goals, plans and priorities helps develop a keen sense of awareness. Step one is to write down what you want to do, and the second step is to develop a way to track the progress. This will bring clarity awareness around the things that really matter.
Paying closer attention to skills, emotional patterns, deeper feelings and our behaviors allow us to live lives of deeper integrity. This awareness will become the foundation of personal growth, success and sustainability over our lifetime.