It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that ain’t so. – Josh Billings,
what is more dangerous? to sit there and think that you’re no good at something when you really have the potential to be great at it? Or, think you’re fantastic at it, And then you find out later that you weren’t so good at it? That’s what we’re talking about today. How to better know yourself. It’s a hard question because I would tell you that both things are bad. When we lack confidence in ourselves and don’t try something that we’d be great at, we’re robbing ourselves of this possibility of doing something amazing. On the other side, if we try something, and we’re terrible at it if it’s a job promotion that we take, and we’re not sure that we’d be great at it, maybe that gets us fired or embarrasses us in front of the entire company. So it’s tough to live life when you really don’t know who you are, And you really don’t have an honest assessment of what you’re good at or what you could use a little bit of help at.
But today, we’re going to try to talk about what we can do to have a more honest and realistic look at who we are. Today, we’re going to talk about Tasha Eurich’s book, called Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think She talks about two different kinds of awareness. First, she talks about internal self-awareness, and that is how you see yourself. This inward understanding of really who you are. What motivates you. What excites you. What you really aspire to do what your ideals are any sort of reactions you have. And your impact on other people. And people who are high in internal self-awareness tend to make really great choices that will help them in their lives and their careers, and they’ll be happier because they’re right in that spot that they should be.
Then there’s external self-awareness. That’s about understanding how other people see you. It may cause you not to do the things that you really hope to do. Or you have this high opinion of what you think co-workers and others think of you, then it might set you up for fall. So, either way, having good external self-awareness is critical. They say that sometimes when people have low external self-awareness, it’s a chance for you to really get blindsided by other people.
But she said that self-awareness is just not this one individual thing that happens where a giant lightbulb pops up in front of your head. Insights are “aha” moments where suddenly it puts you into overdrive. When you have one of those rare moments of understanding, it fuels you to do even better. She says that self-aware people possess seven different types of insights that unaware people don’t have.
- Values – Principles, passions, and loves
- Aspirations – What they want to experience or achieve
- Personality Traits – The Big Five test of Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Conscientious, Openness.
- Fit – The environment they require to be happy
- Patterns – Consistent ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving
- Reactions – Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that reveal the person’s strengths or weaknesses
- Impact – The effect that people have on other people.
You know those things about yourself mean you’re pretty self-aware.
Although sometimes, some of the self-aware moments can come during significant events. Times that really try us. Sometimes they also are there when we have these daily moments. Maybe we’re out exercising or going for a walk. For whatever reason, I tend to be that person who gets them at the weirdest times. I’m walking in the woods, and I look at the tree, and I’m like, that’s me. I’m too flexible, like that tree. And eventually, it’s gonna snap. When I succeed at something or fail at something, I go, Oh, yeah, you know, I need to learn that about myself. So she talks about different events that will give us insights. And there are three kinds. The first one is getting a new role or a new rule. Getting a new role would be like getting a new job. But then there are sometimes new rules. Think about it in terms of the pandemic, suddenly, we had a new rule, you can’t do all these things. It tried us in a way that we’ve never been tried before. Then she talks about earthquake events. And those are essential life-changing things that might be getting married or having kids or losing someone. But that’s something that shakes us up, and it shakes up our lives. And then there are everyday insights. And that just is what I was talking about before you’re walking through the woods, you’re cleaning your house, you’re doing something that you do every day, and suddenly you have this considerable insight. Keeping those things in mind will help you change your life and give you a better understanding.
She also said that having self-awareness isn’t always just one truth. It’s complex. We are deep people. We all have intricacies that make us very unique and sometimes even have competing viewpoints. With the inward perspective you have and the external view, you have no relationship. Some people are great at one and terrible at the other. She talks a little bit about it, like it’s the Hindenburg when you have oxygen, which is not flammable by itself, But it causes things to burn quickly. or hydrogen, which is dangerous because it can spontaneously Ignite. And just like the Hindenburg brought together, boom! But when it’s together, hydrogen and oxygen make water, which is life-sustaining and incredibly stable. So sometimes we have elements in ourselves that when it’s together, we’re great. But when two things are opposite, the internal versus the external, one is there, and one is not there, And they’re not mixed together, suddenly, we have a terrible situation on our hands. So we want to make sure that if we can see both sides of things, that will make us better people. You need good internal self-knowledge and external self-knowledge. When we discover the truth about ourselves on both sides of things, we can learn to take it in with a positive mindset and a sense of self-acceptance; we’re braver but wiser.
Then she talks about some blind spots. There’s knowledge blindness, which is blindness to what we don’t know. Or there’s emotional blindness, you know, something that we feel that we don’t know, then there’s behavior blindness. We want to make sure we overcome those blind spots because it’s important not to have them. To overcome our blind spots, we have to first identify our assumptions, confront our beliefs, and then keep learning. Check ourselves in those areas where we think we know a lot to make sure we really know a lot. She also indicates that having a deep self-focus or thinking about ourselves can distort our ability to see ourselves. Sometimes, if we’re so drilled into who we are and what we are, it doesn’t really give us insight. It may either puff up our vanity more than it was before or make us feel bad because we think we’re terrible at something or that we’re never going to make it. one way or the other That deep dive into ourselves, if not done in the right way can actually hurt us.
She talks about some better ways so that we can monitor our inner dialogue. First, she says that focusing less on ourselves and engaging more with other people will give us insight into ourselves, even though we’re not focused on ourselves. Focus on self-acceptance over self-esteem, and admit there are things we’re not very good at. And for some people, that is really hard to do if we can just acknowledge that we have flaws that we have fears, and then we choose to like ourselves anyway. And then we dedicate ourselves to becoming better than being boastful or having high self-esteem. And then she mentions monitoring your inner monologue. I mentioned it in an earlier podcast. But I think the right way of watching your inner monologue is to pretend that you were saying these words out loud to your best friend. So she mentioned that Adam Grant, a researcher in this area, found that there was actually no relationship between introspection and insight. Thinking about yourself wasn’t, in fact, associated with knowing yourself. In fact, it was a little bit the opposite. The assumption that introspection begets self-awareness is a myth. And she said that the reason for that is because reflection is something we’re horrible at. When we look at having some introspective and doing this deep dive into our personality, we tend to get it entirely wrong.
When doing introspection, she mentions that “why” questions are terrible. “What” problems are fantastic because when you are having a bad day, you’re sitting there and saying, why am I so miserable today? Why was I up all last night just thinking about my project? The “why” will make you go down a rabbit hole you can’t get out of. Instead, What you want to do is ask the “what” questions because the “what” questions actually help identify something good. What was it that kept me up last night? What is it on the project that is causing me to be worried? What aspects of my work do I think I’m not doing very well at? So why is it better than “Why”? Why am I so terrible at my job? No! What aspect of my work do I need to strengthen or get rid of to be better at what I do? Why just leads to victimhood. She says that “Why” forces us to name our emotions, which can be incredibly damaging.
She talks about people who like to ruminate and ruminate is that turning around where you’re trying to take an idea and kind of mash it around in your brain to get some progress on it. And she said that people who lack self-awareness, and if they’re terrible at introspection, rumination will be disastrous. Some people are really good at ruminating. But for the most part, you need to get away from that when you’re trying to fix the problems in your life and better understand yourself. Instead, they said that they should have a learn-well mindset. And that means channeling thinking into learning versus performance. So when you beat up on yourself, it may be why I am so terrible at that? Again, those why questions, when instead you’re focusing on learning, you’re thinking about what could I do better to have more success on these dates? What could I be doing better to be performing better at work? That’s where we get rid of rumination. We take on a learner’s mindset.
She says, to do introspection the correct way, we should do the following things. First, choose the right approach, don’t reflect on the self because not all self-reflection is useful. Instead, you should focus more on the future instead of the past. That’ll help us have the proper attitude. Then be flexible. There’s no absolute truth when it comes to looking at yourself. And then, instead of asking why, ask what. And she said, You can journal if you’d like to, but make sure it’s not one of those everyday things. Sometimes, if you force yourself into journaling, when you’re not mentally prepared for it or really not processing your thoughts and ideas very well, it can actually be more damaging. And then if you’re finding yourself that you’re getting distracted, or you kind of hit a block, and you’re not really making any progress with your introspection, stop for now. Take a little bit of a break. Give yourself a positive reward, and take it up later, when you can be more productive. She said to picture stop signs. So you remind yourself it’s time to stop so that you don’t go down this rumination hole of beating yourself up.
Share those situations with your friends So they may be able to give you some perspective and insight into what you’re thinking about. She said that you can ask yourself the questions, what went well today? What didn’t go so well? What did I learn? And how will I be smarter tomorrow? I tend to do that, again, because I struggle so much with my weight and exercise. So it’s one of those things that I focus on the most. At the end of every day, I try to look back. How did I do on eating? What went well? What didn’t go so well? What about exercise? Did I exercise? Or did I not really do what I was hoping to do? What happened? What can I do tomorrow to make it better than it was today? And she reminds us that self-awareness is not a single truth. We are involved, people.
Then she talks about getting feedback from other people. But that’s the right feedback that we need. The right people with the right questions and use the right process. So a lot of times, the reason that feedback doesn’t go very well. We just walk into somebody’s office or their room and say, how do you think I did today? They might not be the right person to answer that question. That might not have been the right question to ask them. And it may be that it’s not the right format to just give them this open-ended questionnaire about how you did today? Because sometimes they won’t even answer the question you’re hoping that they will. So when she talks about the right people, she says to look for people who are not unloving critics. Those are people who just love to beat us down. They don’t like us. They never liked us. Their opinions don’t help us, because you know, they’re just waiting to beat you down. Then the other side of it is the uncritical lovers. They love us. They love everything we do. They think we’re fantastic in almost everything we do. That is not something that’s going to help us get the right proper kinds of feedback. You want to make sure that they are right there in the middle of those two things. That you have mutual trust. That they had sufficient exposure to you. Maybe there’s someone new in your company, and you walk in, and you say I you think I didn’t get that promotion, I don’t really know you very well, I just started in the company last week. So that’s no good either. So they have to have enough time with you to understand what’s going right or wrong.
And then ask the right question that has specificity. You just don’t want to say, how do you think today went? Sometimes when I’m giving a speech? I know things that went wrong in that speech. So it’s not going to do me much good to go to a co-worker and say, do you think that went too long? And then I talked to you fast? Probably already know the answer to that. Instead, try to get feedback on something that you don’t know. Do you think the content was appropriate? If I had to drop any one of those topics? What would that be? Trying to make sure it’s specific so that it helps you. And then focus, they said when you’re getting feedback on just one or two hypotheses. And that you want to make sure that you have a decision about how deep you want to go. Do you really want someone to tear apart your speech from the beginning? What you might want to do is actually limit what it is you’re trying to do to help you grow. You want to focus on one particular thing. I had problems, and I still have questions about speaking too quickly. Sometimes, I will ask co-workers if they could listen specifically to how fast I’m talking to rate how well I did on that particular thing.
So when you’re reflecting on the feedback, once you get it, you should think about, first of all, is it something confirming something you knew already? Is it something surprising that you didn’t know already? Was it critical? Or was it positive? And remember that anytime you receive any type of feedback, there’s not necessarily one solution to it. Sometimes you can think of multiple ideas to make it better. You want to make sure that you understood the feedback. Occasionally someone will tell you something. I’ve done this myself to0 where you walk away, say, Okay, wait a minute, what they mean by that, I’m not really sure. If that person is a supervisor to you at your office, you may not feel like going back to them and ask. Ensure that you get enough information at that time and the feedback that it’s helpful to you. Then ask yourself, how will this affect my long-term success and well-being? So taking that feedback and wondering what I can do to ensure that it helps me. She then talks in the book about deciding what things we can fix and what things we can’t fix and the acceptance to know the difference.
When she talks about the right process. She actually talks about asking a set of questions of someone or giving them a worksheet with a set number of questions on them. Again, not that open-ended. So how do you think I did? She talks about ground rules when giving feedback. And the first is to avoid generalities. You always say this! You never do that! That’s not the right way to go about that. We’re talking about this one particular project at work, event at work, or event at home. Anytime you go into the “you always” or “you never,” it’s going to be taken poorly. Then focus on behaviors rather than the person. you don’t want to say to someone, “you’re angry, you’re an angry person.” Instead, maybe what they said to you was angry, or the feedback you were giving to them is about a time when they sounded furious. Their behavior was angry. They’re not angry. There’s a big difference there.
And then don’t give your interpretation, I could tell you really dislike that person! Because you don’t know what actually goes on in anybody’s head but your own. Instead of interpreting what you saw, you want to make sure that the feedback is about the behavior. And then, the fourth thing is to provide examples.
So that should give three different types of people when she talks about people you provide feedback to. The first is the “lost cause.” They just cling to whatever it is they believe in themselves, good or bad. And they can’t really shake it. They can’t get past it. And they usually never challenged those views of themselves. And then there’s the person she calls the “aware don’t care,” which means they know all the stuff about them, but they don’t really care about it one way or the other. Those people don’t want to be fixed. They don’t want to be helped. The third category is nudgeable. And that’s the person who will have an effect based on the feedback that they get. Maybe they’re a little bit “lost causes,” or perhaps they’re a bit bit “aware, don’t care,” but there’s still enough of them there who want to become better than they can be helped by the feedback that they’re getting. Unfortunately, the big catch 22 of self awareness is that the people who seem to need it the most are the ones who don’t want to have feedback.
And she said that when we confront other people, we should always do so with compassion.
- Ensure that you focus on having great internal self-awareness. what’s going on on the inside of you. And you have a grasp of the external self-awareness. And that’s what other people think of you.
- Look for these alarm clock moments. Those are going to be situations that are either new roles or new rules. Earthquake events that shake us up, or everyday insights. Ensure that when things are going on in life that gives you insights into you and the world around you that you make sure that you listen,
- make sure that you’re not focusing on yourself when trying to gain self-awareness. Focusing on other people can give us almost as much insight as ruminating, mulling over, or just concentrate on ourselves
- to make sure we get the right feedback, which means the right people, the right questions, and the right processes. Ensure that they have exposure to your behavior that you’re asking for feedback on and that you trust that person. Make sure you ask them specific questions, maybe even written down. focus on only one or two things
- Write down a few sentences on your life areas. You want to have more self-awareness. Is it your friendships, your faith, your work? And try to figure out what’s the one or two areas that you could really succeed with knowing more about yourself and more about what other people think about you in that area.
And today, our fun movie quote of the day comes from the movie Clue
“Miss Scarlet: No, it’s not true.
Mr. Green: Ah ha! So it is true!
Wadsworth: A double negative!
Colonel Mustard: A double negative?
Colonel Mustard: You mean you have photographs?
Wadsworth: That sounds like a confession to me. In fact, the double negative has led to proof positive. I’m afraid you gave yourself away.
Colonel Mustard: Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
Wadsworth: You don’t need any help from me, sir.
Colonel Mustard: That’s right!”
There really isn’t anyone better than Tim Curry. And sometimes you really don’t need other people’s help to make you look like a fool. You’re really doing a great job of it yourself. Having self-awareness will help you know when you’re being a fool and not being a fool.
Alright, everyone, thank you very much. Remember, visit my website at https://smallstepspod.com/. If you’d please tell a friend about this podcast. I am trying to grow this podcast and have other people learn about it. And Your help is essential because you know the kinds of people who might be interested in a podcast like this.
I hope you have a fantastic week.