In this video. the viewer learns what becoming self-aware entails. Bill sets up the scope for the videos to come.
- One of the hardest things any leader has to do is to see themselves as others see them. For a lot of us, we're afraid to be honest and be real, and how can you be authentic if you don't have a clear understanding of who you are and then your impact on other people? It's not hard for most people to tell when they're dealing with a leader who is not self-aware and a lot of people just bull their way around and go through. They act like jerks. They think they can overpower people. They think they can dominate them. They have no idea.
They're totally clueless in how they're impacting other people. But people know who's authentic and who's not. You can't fake it to make it, but many people try. They act like imposters, like they're trying to be something they're not. When I was younger, I had a deep lack of self-awareness, and I had this great desire to get ahead and to look good and to be accepted by people and so that translated into winning elections. Guess what? I didn't win the elections. I lost seven elections in a row in high school and college because I didn't know who I was and I thought winning the election was gonna make me feel more important and better.
And I never understood why I was being rejected and yet I had this terrible feeling about myself. Finally at Georgia Tech some seniors took me aside and said, "Bill, no one's ever gonna want to work with you, "much less be led by you because you're moving so fast "to get ahead, it's like you're building a resume "instead of developing relationships. "Do you really care about anyone?" And I did care deeply about people but I realized I wasn't coming off that way, and that caused me to go into a period of self-reflection which was really helpful and painful, and going back to ask people for feedback about what I was doing wrong.
I was the kid who was always trying too hard, was too eager to get ahead, too eager to impress, and actually it had just the opposite effect. I was turning people off, but I didn't really realize that. And so building your self-awareness is like peeling an onion and getting to the core of who you are. It can take decades, even a lifetime. The Oracle of Delphi told us 4,000 years ago know thyself. But we don't know ourselves. In fact I've rarely heard a leader admit they didn't have self-awareness, but a lot of times we act like we're clueless.
So how do we get to having that deep understanding of who we are? It has to do with understanding our life's story, where we came from, and accepting ourselves as we are for who we are. A lot of times we have shame about certain characteristics like what do you have shame for? I'm often ashamed about being impatient or being too direct or I have fears, and a lot of times these play into my level of self-awareness and so I don't feel I can be real and interacting with other people, and that really is a bad way to be and it's a hard way to live.
So ask yourself are you comfortable being yourself around your friends, around your work colleagues, in your family? Or do you feel like you have to put on a mask, you have to be a facade and be something you're not? That's really a tough way to get ahead in the world I think. You may get ahead a couple of steps but eventually you'll be unmasked and it's not gonna end well. So the important thing is develop your self-awareness and your knowledge of yourself through understanding your life story, your crucibles, and then carrying that into the world.
You know the hardest person you ever have to lead is yourself, and I hadn't started there. But then when you go into the world, it's to understand how you're impacting other people. How do you impact other people in your life and what's their reaction to you? You don't just say anything that comes to mind that might be hurtful to somebody. But how do you say things that bring people together that help them, that inspire them, that build relationships, that build caring? How do you come from that caring place? This takes a lot of awareness of yourself and a lot of personal introspection to do.
So ask yourself, how self-aware am I? Are you really doing those things? Are you getting honest feedback from other people that help you understand whether you're self-aware or not and whether you have this sense, and how you're impacting those other people? 'Cause how else can you lead? You can only lead if you really have an impact on other people and they want to be with you, they want to follow you. No one's gonna do it by command. You can't command them to do it, not today, not now, and certainly not in the future. So to do that, you've got to reach people where they live and have empathy for them and who they are, and that's what the essence of being self-aware and having the relationships with people so that you know how you can build that caring relationship with someone that inspires them and causes them to want to work with you.
It took me a long time to learn that.
- Understanding your desires and fears
- Knowing and owning your life story
- Seeking feedback
- Accepting yourself