Five Attributes of Self Aware Individuals by Modise Moloi

One of the critical questions that many people ask themselves relates to their own identity which is Who Am I. In life comes a time where the acquisition of material possessions, holding to power and being famous become meaningless if the question of Who AM I has never been answered. There are many people who fame are not adequate to bring fulfillment or close the human pursuit for real meaning of existence in life. It the book called Unleash Your Purpose the late Dr Myles Munroe who stated that “until purpose is discovered, existence has no meaning, for purpose is the source of fulfillment”. Many people today live without understanding their real reason of existence in life which is the purpose of their existence.

The inability to answer the question of Who AM I leads to many undesirable behaviours such as being involved in substance abuse, alcohol abuse, personal abuse, low morale in life, lack of ambition. The difference between the low performers and high performers, achievers and non-achievers, significant and insignificant, great an ordinary people lies in the depth of self-awareness.

I have learnt that lack of self awareness has led to a situation where people live below their potential or are leading unfulfilled lives because they have not taken time to reflect on their strengths, weakness and drives. In simple terms lack of self-awareness accounts for lack of exceptional performance in almost areas of our lives.

The answer to the question of Who Am I is not found in material possessions, power, academic qualifications or financial muscles. In fact, due to lack of self awareness many young professionals are misplaced in their career fields, many people are rich but are still not content and many leaders are in positions of power yet they are still experiencing some emptiness in their lives. If people were aware of who they are they would not be driven power, money and fame but the real reason of their existence which is purpose.

Let me try to answer the question in your mind about what is this Self-Awareness. In trying to understand what is self awareness I have researched a little bit and I am still researching so that I can add value in my generation around this subject. One of the prolific authors on Emotional Intelligence is Dr Daniel Goleman. Self-awareness in an element within the subject of emotional intelligence or is the foundation of emotional intelligence. The other elements of emotional intelligence are Self Management, Social Skills, Motivation and Empathy. My conversation with you on this article is mainly about self awareness. I would like you to understand what is self awareness and attributes of self-aware people.

“Self-Awareness is defined as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. The other definition of self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.” This simply means that you do not lose your individuality in the midst of the crowd. There are many people who have lost themselves trying to fit-in into different systems.

According to Dr Daniel Goleman, Self Awareness means having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives. People with strong self awareness are neither over critical or unrealistically hopeful. He further said that Self Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions.” These explanations of self-awareness challenges each and every one of us to answer the following questions:

  1. Do I Know My Strengths?
  2. Do I know My Weaknesses?
  3. Do I Know My Drives?
  4. Do I Know My Motivations?
  5. Do I Know My Personality?

I want to challenge you to set time aside and try to answer these questions and see how your self-awareness can improve. Remember self-awareness is a personal journey and there is no one who can travel it on your behalf. Self-awareness can help you achieve that very dream that you have always been struggling to achieve. It does not start on the outside but it starts within you. Having defined self-awareness, let us explore the five attributes of self-aware people.

  1. One of the questions that I always try to answer in my leadership presentations when talking about self awareness is to highlight the attributes of self-aware individuals. The first attribute of self aware individuals is understanding the balance sheet of your strengths(assets) and limitations (liabilities). The truth is that all of us have a fair share of strengths and limitations in life and often times individuals do not spend much of their time growing their strengths which are their assets.
  1. The second attribute of self aware people is the ability to translate their ideas into reality. It is a fact that many individuals have great dreams and ideas but the challenge is always about translating their ideas into reality. Self-Aware individuals know what they want to achieve ad are willing to take necessary steps for them to translate their ideas or goals into reality.
  1. The third attribute that is really a challenge to a number of people including myself is being proactive than being reactive. The self-aware people are enemies of procrastination. In my personal reflections I have realized that if I did not procrastinate, I would have written more leadership articles, I would have spent more hours in coaching, I would have not been penalized for late payments on electricity bills, I would have not lost that opportunity and I would have completed some of my projects.

I agree with Mr Hosea Ramphekwa that “if procrastination or delaying was a crime the whole world would be serving jail time by now”. This is what he has shared in his book called Gifted, Hunted and Haunted. The very first step to overcoming procrastination is to have deep personal reflections about where you are as compared to where you are supposed to be in life without comparing yourself with others. One of the exceptional coaches in Dr Dumisani Magadlela said to me “It Is A Meaningless Pursuit To Compare Yourself With Others”. I urge you set time aside in the midst of your busy schedule to have an opportunity to assess where are you in relation to your God-given potential and purpose. It is after such reflections where you can notice the areas that need some adjustments, improvements and refining in your life.

The other two attributes of self-aware people I have learnt from Dr Daniel Goleman in his article called “What Makes Great Leader”. These two attributes are self confidence and being comfortable talking about one’s weakness and limitations.

  1. Self Aware people can be recognized by their self confidence. They have a clear understanding of their capabilities and are less likely to set themselves up for a failure. At times, a number of people set themselves up for a failure because of the inability to say NO to deliver n expectations where they do not have expertise. This is propagated by the general dealer kind of an attitude where a number of young people want to do everything even what they are not capable of doing as long as they can invoice a client. However, self-aware people have the confidence to say NO to anything that is not within the area of their strengths. This shows the importance of knowing what you are good at and what you are not good at. Therefore, you will not allow yourself to be pushed into areas where you cannot deliver to your fullest potential.
  1. Self Aware people know and are comfortable talking about their strengths and limitations. They are also thirst for constructive criticism. The ability to embrace and receive constructive criticism is very imperative for individuals who desires to grow and make impact or influence their communities. A number of people are afraid to receive feedback especially on areas that they have limitations or where they have to improve. If one is not ready to receive feedback that challenges the paradise one’s comfort zone it simply means that one is not willing to grow.

One of the prolific and articulate young authors, Mr Hosea Ramphekwa has this to say about the paradise of comfort zone “comfort zone is a state or stage people reach where they let their guard down or minimize their intensity towards pursuing dreams because they experiencing certain degree of success”. As a person you always need people who will challenge you out of your comfort zone because a certain degree of success might make you feel that you have arrived while you have just scratched the surface of your potential. It is people who have self-awareness who will always invite and welcome constructive criticism in their lives for them to grow.

In conclusion, self-awareness is very helpful in helping to answer the question of Who Am I, not what do I have materially or financially. It is self-awareness that differentiates the significant and successful individuals, ordinary and great individuals, achievers and non-achievers. If you desire to become significant in your generation, you must make a decision to invest time and money in your personal development journey so that you can know Who You Are.

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