Knowing Who You Are
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung
As leaders, we are continually placed in positions where we feel like we need to have answers about outside things. We feel like we’re supposed to know what our customers want, what our employees want, what markets are thinking, what trends are coming. We even feel like we have to be able to predict the future.
All those outside things certainly matter. Do whatever you need to do to understand those external forces and how you need to respond. They have an impact.
But don’t forget the internal things. I don’t mean internal to your company, although that certainly is important. I’m talking about internal to you, personally, both as a leader and as a human being. We spend so much time as leaders thinking and planning and worrying about how to handle situations and people outside of us, that we forget to think about how to handle ourselves.
Your job as leader is to help others be successful, but you can’t be successful if you aren’t getting the things you need. Most leaders forget – or refuse to admit – that they need enough rest. They need to eat right and exercise. Just as importantly, they need to take time for themselves. What recharges you? What kinds of things do you do outside of work that give you energy? That really make your day? Those things are important, and you’re not being selfish when you take time to do them.
You also can’t be successful if you don’t understand your strengths and – maybe more importantly – your weaknesses. There’s no point in you trying to be a world class leader in an area that’s a constant struggle. If you’re no good at IT, then hire somebody, outsource it, whatever, but make sure you’re not the one doing it.
Likewise, if you’re great with your people and creating culture, then make sure you aren’t filling your day with things that don’t allow you to get out of your office. Make sure you’re spending time with your people, building that environment of success, making people feel like your organization is the place they want to be. Your business can’t be successful unless you’re spending as much time as possible doing what you do best. Do you know what that is?
There’s no magic trick to becoming more self-aware, and it’s not always easy. Whatever you do, get some help. One of the problems with a lack of self-awareness is that you don’t realize when you don’t have it Find someone who’s willing to be honest with you, to call you out when you need it, and encourage you when you need that.
You cannot be a successful leader without understanding yourself. Figure yourself out first, and everything else will get easier.