Socrates’ claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments he presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value. (Source: The Apology Summary by Plato Socrates 399 BC)

Maybe a little harsh, but what a truth. Having the insight to understand what makes us who we are; why we respond the way we do; what excites us and drives our passion; and what challenges us and produces negative thoughts. Surely, this self-awareness is the basis for doing life well and having success.

We’ve Got The Insights

Nothing is more frustrating in any relationship than trying to determine what is real and what is fake. One of the most rewarding aspects of working with my colleagues is that I know them. Not just who they are — but their inherent personality and behavior. More importantly, they know me.

Why is this good to know? I work on the other side of the world and most of my connections with my colleagues is via social media and A/V conferencing software apps. If I didn’t know their behavioral style, I’m not sure we’d work well together.

We’re an interesting bunch made up of the quiet, the analytical, the relational, the charismatic, the creative, the young, the older and we’re led by a strategic entrepreneur. Sounds like a recipe for disaster! But because of what we do and how passionately we believe in what we do, we work together as smoothly as a Swiss watch. Why?

Because as individuals we invested time into discovering what makes us tick. We then took steps to understand how to manage and use this information to do life more effectively. Then, and this is the big step, we discovered as individuals how to interact with others whose behavior is diametrically opposite our own. Tricky, but doable.

A Personal Example

I’m a conversationalist and a debater, intensely aware of other people and yet reserved. Through self-examination, I know when to shut up. I see the signs of colleagues or clients glazing over if I’m saying too much. I know my subject and am passionate about it. Understanding behaviors has been my career but I needed to understand that self-awareness is not something others necessarily subscribe to. Many believe they are what they do. In other words, their sense of self is strongly linked to their career. Big mistake. The mistake is even bigger if they link their sense of self and success to money.

Self-awareness is important because when we have a better understanding of ourselves, we understand our uniqueness and individualism. This empowers us to make changes and build on our strengths and manage our limitations. Further, when careers or lives change, we don’t.

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