Who are you? “know thyself” has been a popular mantra throughout the centuries. Socrates was absolutely right when he claimed that all wisdom begins with knowing yourself. You might think he was the first to come up with the idea of self-wisdom, but it actually goes even further back as it was written on the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.
Asian cultures have been holding self-wisdom in high regard for ages too. The Hindus for instance, speak of self-realization as (part of) the way to immortality, the highest good in their belief of reincarnation. In China, Confucius stated that government should be based on self-government.
It’s clear that self-knowledge is and has been an important aspect of many believes, cultures and societies. One that’s hard to achieve, but well worth the effort.
Temple of Apollo, Delphi
The true value of being self-aware
Self-wisdom on its own has some value to it, in the same way that advanced mathematics have value merely for the sake of mathematics. It’s what you do with that wisdom, which determines its true value. Once you understand the basis of your actions, thoughts and preferences, you become a more complete human being. It’ll help you avoid situations that are bad for your general wellbeing and lure you into environments that’ll stimulate you. After all, knowing your inner self implies knowing what you can (and what you can’t), as well as having a clear indication of what you need to be on the lookout for. Being completely self-aware allows you to see the bigger picture, while you let go of prejudices you didn’t even know you had. That bigger picture has some advantages to it too. Most importantly, it helps you process critiques and plain insults. Once you know in which environments you thrive and how to deal with futile insults, you inevitably end up being more productive and happy.
The road to inner reflection
Anthony K. Tjan offers five tips in a brief article on Harvard Business Review. First and foremost:
meditate. Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve, what’s slowing you down and what you can do to change, for instance. Meditating doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion either. Just mowing your lawn is a form of meditation too –given that you’re actually clearing your head.
Another easy to implement tip, is finding and measuring your key plans and priorities. This doesn’t need much explaining, seeing as how you already do that all the time at your job. Simply writing your goals down, helps you a great deal in achieving them.
One that’s a little harder, especially for more introverted types, is asking good friends (ones you can trust) how you come across to others. I’m not saying that your image in the minds of others is what defines you, but it sure gives a general direction.
A fourth tip is getting regular feedback at your workplace. Nowadays, most companies offer quite a lot of feedback and it’s actually really helpful in terms of finding your true self –especially in work related matters. If you however do happen to work in a company that still undervalues the importance of continuous assessment, you can always try and convince them of its benefits.
The fifth tip Tjan offers is undergoing psychometric tests, like our very own ‘Personality Types’ (for those interested, read all about it here). The ‘Personality Types’ test is designed to give you an easy to understand overview of who you are, what you can and what your strengths & weaknesses are. An experienced coach helps you to correctly analyze the results, so that you’re more than ready to complete your journey to being fully self-aware, to being a more complete and more productive human being. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to let us know!