To begin any journey or re-assessment of self or business, the first instance is to take stock of who you are. As Immanual Kent, theorised “Know thyself”……self knowledge is just the beginning. I’ve always taken this to be true, more so as I have gotten older. Age naturally gives you self-awareness coupled with an element of self acceptance. You no longer feel pressured to act or behave in a certain way and after years spent of questioning youself, suddenly you realise, actually, you’re a good person.
So what has self awareness given me? Well I have an idea of how I am and how I am perceived. This can vary from educationally, to professionally, to socially……I put a different version of myself forward in different situations. Professionally and within education, I’m determined, I’m an over achiever, I’m pragmatic, I’m a risk taker, I constantly seek out better ways of doing things, I seek out enterprising possibilities in everything I see but I’m quite introverted, a dominant group member, I can come across as intimidating, stand offish and people’s first impressions of me, can be very wrong. I very much am an alpha female, I’m competitive and I can’t underline enough, how much I struggle to work in a team. I’m very much a lone wolf in terms of work and education, but obviously from an early age, I have realised this is no way to be or to work! Efficiency requires a team.
Such self awareness here, has blossomed into a love/hate relationship with myself. Whilst so many of these aspects, which contribute to the difficulty of working within a team or people’s perceptions of me, are huge contributing factors to my success. My introversion, which sometimes appears as awkward, I find myself eternally apologising for but yet my ability to think and consider, in why I’m a good strategic planner and why I’m able to get things done. My intimidating nature has been fedback to me, by people who have within education worked alongside me. This was a situation where I was being very successful, I was working within a successful team but I was a “powerhouse” of hard work, ideas and energy……..whilst I thought this was something good for the team, I didn’t consider that actually it isn’t always about just getting things done, being efficient, storming off a head, it is also about letting other people learn and making mistakes. Shutting up and supporting them! Furthermore, I work best with strategy, plans, high standards, deadlines but what I often struggle with, is that other people don’t always work well within that environment, so compromise is needed. In terms of personal development, I’ve worked very hard on developing these areas, especially the team work bit, which I will go into further detail in a future post.
Such a journey of self awareness, (and i could list down attributes, behaviours and experience concerning things I am aware of) has been a long one to this point and by no means is it close to finished. Bourner (1996) expresses this journey of personal development by exploiting the idea that whilst self awareness and self acceptance is the first step, the next one has to be developing a sense of you future goal image. The question is, “how would I like to be?”. Consequently, this involves a balancing act of maintaining the areas of myself that I’m proud of, the things I do well but also seeking out a better way of working, so that I can address my weaknesses and engage others to work effectively around me.
Bourner states that there are several layers to self awareness, many of which I instantly recognised as a process I’d already been through and I do consider that my self awareness is actually a strong point in terms of effective working. I exploit the ways I know I work best; I know my favourite learning styles, my strengths and weaknesses and when/how I work best. This has come through years of experimenting and learning from my mistakes. Also, an element of acceptance, that sitting reading a book all day in the library, is not the best way of me to learn. I need to be active, I need to engage and to question. Consequently, I have a good understanding of myself and how I will react, I’m rarely shocked by situations or feedback, because I’m usually already aware.
Reeves (1994) considers that managers have to do two things; “keep the existing show on the road and they have to innovate and make improvements”. I couldn’t agree more and this should be applied not only to team management but self management. My experience within retail management most certainly taught me that, not only do you have to function, fight daily fires and endlessly adapt, you also have to have your eyes on the long term with a strategy in terms of how to progress and develop the team.
In terms of applying this theory to myself, this is something that I most certainly do in a practical sense in business or in the work place, but do I actually do it as a person? I suggest, I probably don’t, at least not professionally. I’ve got to the stage of personal development, where I am self aware, I do have self acceptance, I have a strong idea of how I’d like to be within the professional sphere, but do I have a plan to get there? In terms of improving my team work and improving my efficiency and effectiveness as a learn, I most certainly do not. Whilst I most certainly have improved with experience, i wouldn’t say it was always a concious process. Moreover, in line with Revans (1983), i suggest there are things about myself that I’m probably not aware of and so I can’t change them. Journey into self awareness is not about perfection and is not about at any one time knowing everything, it is about continually developing.
With this in mind and the inspiration from Bourner, i have a huge question to answer. Who do I want to be professionally? Well, in terms of my business goals long term, I want to run my own business, I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to be someone that can not just lead a team into success, but someone who can work within a team and to be seen as a valued member and not an intimidating, controlling, powerhouse. I want to be able to collaborate. I put it to you, that I have never “really” collaborated on anything. Most of what I have achieved has been either via my own hard work or through being the leader of a fantastic team (each member fantastically brilliant in their own way), which I developed.
So the plan to get there, well it starts with pledge to experiment with different methods of learning and behaving and to not segregate myself away and disengage when I feel frustrated. It also involves being fully engaged in this learning process and having an open mind. It involves reflection. This year is one of fluidity and learning. It involves hopefully changing my opinion, that team work is something to be endured for the greater good.