“the unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
All humans want to be well-liked, accepted by their families, friends, and communities, and seen as a competent member of the team at school or work. In short, we are all, to some extent, trying to be the best versions of ourselves.
But we can all agree that “being our best” means different things to each of us. The problem many people run into, happens when their approach to self-awareness is too passive. They let the outside world tell them who they are rather than taking the journey inside to find out, for sure.
Sadly, many of us are socialized to hide our strengths for fear of being seen as cocky or arrogant. At the same time, many of us hide our vulnerabilities and weaknesses for fear of being seen as less capable, or worry that someone will take advantage of us. Yet, we can all agree that if we want to know ourselves, perhaps the least we can do is understand our strengths and weaknesses, including behaviors, biases, and personality.
This is why if we truly want to improve our self-awareness, we need to take a more active approach, one that challenges us to give ourselves as much input as we allow others to have.
Today, we’re going to explore some of the ways to improve our self-awareness, so we can have better relationships –with others and ourselves — show off our strengths, communicate our weaknesses, and live a more fulfilling and authentic life.
I recently found out that my conflict resolution style is roughly 80% Problem Solving and 75% Compromise, with a virtually 0% chance that I will avoid the problem.
Knowing these tendencies, I can now choose to lean in and improve my skills of problem solving and compromise, or recognize that I need to learn how to walk away from certain types of conflict.
This knowledge represents the power to decide who I want to be moving forward.
If you aim to Become Superhuman and cultivate the best version of yourself, the first place I recommend you start is with the standard behavioral and personality assessments.
I recommend taking these assessments, not because all of them have a rigorous methodology and pinpoint accuracy, but because, in aggregate and as an overview, they can be extremely helpful. Lots of people get hung up on these tests because they either put too much faith in the results, or argue many of them are little more than a horoscope. I think that misses the point. The point is to go through a bunch of them and triangulate, over-time, the average of the results you get, to find the things that resonate.
Here are some of the ones I recommend…
This one is a good place to start because a lot of people have taken it and the four-lettered acronym means something to those who have. If you are familiar with the assessment, then you already know what it means that I have traditionally been an ENFP but flipped to an ENFJ, over time.
There are 16 personality types with each of the components having varying degrees of intensity. It’s somewhat based in the work of Carl Jung. Take this one with a grain of salt and think of it less as a GPS and more like a compass. It helps with general direction but often less with specific turn-by-turn.
You can take this one for free over at 16personalities.com.
Never before have I personally felt so seen as I have with the Enneagram. I’d taken it twice before it hit the mark, and here’s why.
The Enneagram is made up of 9 personality types with two wing variations and an instinctual variant subtype. Each of us can be found in all of the 9 primary types, but we all have a dominant type. When I took the assessment the first time, my results showed a type-3. I read the description and while some of it hit the mark, a lot of it felt wrong. I took it again. This time I got a type-7. Again, lots of it felt accurate, but many things didn’t feel quite right.
I was convinced the whole thing was hocus-pocus.
I sat with the results. Then, I noticed something strange. In both sets of results, my second highest score was a type-8. So, I read the report for the Enneagram 8…and by the end, I was crying.
After that, I became obsessed with the Enneagram and had my wife, dad, mom, and business partner all take the assessment and pay the $19 for the report. It describes each of us with an accuracy I find astonishing.
The report includes strengths, weaknesses, triggers, superpowers, greatest fears, and more.
You can take it for free but, I STRONGLY advise buying the $19 report afterward: https://www.truity.com/test/enneagram-personality-test
And if you get hungry for more, take the Instinctual Variant test and then start searching Youtube for your type (here’s one about mine: 8w7-Sx).
I took DISC a decade ago and still find the result relevant. What I like about DISC is the inclusion of two scores, one for how you show up in a normal state, and the other for how you behave when stressed. It tends to show what parts of yourself you lean on when the going gets tough.
This level of awareness can be quite useful.
Take it for free here, report optional but again, encouraged: https://www.truity.com/test/disc-personality-test
Gallup – Clifton Strengths Assessment
What are you great at? Well, that’s exactly what this assessment tells you.
Gallup has designed a very professionally appropriate survey to help you identify your strengths.
This assessment offers 34 different strengths including what you like and dislike, your blinds spots, and how to maximize your potential.
Price ranges from $19 – $50
Cursor and Conflict Styles Assessment
I just recently found this one (see above) and it’s useful to see how you handle conflict. Some people lean into it, some run away. Some want to win, others want a win-win.
Find yours for free: https://www.usip.org/public-education-new/conflict-styles-assessment
OK, so you’ve gone through the assessments above and you’re hungry for more.
Well, maybe it’s time you dealt with all that trauma you’ve been ignoring. Or maybe you were lucky enough to avoid any serious trauma. Either way, a therapist remains one of the best places to work through what’s happening in that head of yours.
- Why do you yell at your partner?
- How do you feel about that time you stuck your foot in your mouth at work?
- Why can’t you just speak up? Alternatively, why can’t you just keep your mouth shut?
If you go through even one or two of the assessments above, you’ll probably find some things you will want to talk about. Your therapist is a great place to start.
If you’re in PA and need to find a therapist, I’d like to recommend Council For Relationships. I’m on the Board of this amazing organization and they help everyone get access to professional mental health services regardless of anyone’s ability to pay. They even have telehealth appointments. Check it out: https://councilforrelationships.org/
If you made it through the first two recommendations above, you may finally be ready for the third option: external feedback.
You have to be VERY careful who you ask for feedback. Getting feedback about your behavior or personality can be a truly traumatizing experience — when that power is given to the wrong person.
The right environment requires three elements to be present in abundance: care, trust, and safety. Not surprisingly, these are the three pillars of Lovable Leadership.
If you are lucky enough to be in a place in your life or career where you have someone you trust, are certain cares about you, and where you both feel safe enough to share feedback, both positive and negative, then you should relish the opportunity to have that conversation.
Some of the people who know us best can shine a light on patterns of behavior that we would do well to be more conscious about.
Take a step, every day
Self-awareness is a daily practice. Be curious about yourself. Go further, be fascinated with yourself. You are the person you are going to spend the most time with throughout your entire life.
The moments you have, alone with your thoughts, sorting through the self-talk, can take many shapes. One of the best things you can do for yourself, is take the initiative so you get a say in those conversations.
Continually learning more about yourself and taking action with what you learn will give you the opportunity to have even better relationships, a more satisfying career, and the freedom to live a life more authentic to who you really are.
Especially, now that you’ve begun learning who that really is.
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