Aktualisiert: 30. Aug 2019
I am a big believer in self-reflection. Self-reflection - done properly, including humility, clarity and openness of mind - is a powerful tool to get to know your authentic self, tap into your full human potential, and become the best version of yourself.
Also, it requires a lot of courage - because you will be facing your own shortcomings and flaws rather sooner than later; something we usually try to avoid - when looking in the mirror, or when presenting ourselves to others.
It is like peeling an onion - layer by layer we get closer to the deeper truths of our authenic self, but there will be tears shed, too. It is not easy. So why go through all this trouble in the first place?
Because, by becoming aware of the underlying reasons for your behavior - your motives, desired and needs, you will be able to act, rather than react. By reflecting on and understanding why you do certain things, you will become more authentic, and thus lead a more fulfilled and happier life. You will enjoy more authentic relationships, find your authentic career and become an authentic leader, rather than being merely a superior to others.
So, how about you? Are you ready to peel your onion?
Great! Let me give you a few pointers:
Let´s start with the outer layer and look at your behaviors, i.e. our words and actions...What are they and why do you behave the way you do? How do people feel around you? Are they happier with you around or do they rather avoid you?
Answering these questions in the most open and honest way will get you to the next layer:
Our motivation and drivers. Why are we behaving the way we are? What is it that we want from life? What drives us? What are you trying to achieve these days? Where are these motives coming from?
In systemic coaching we refer to five different drivers. Often these drivers started out as praise of well-intentioned parents, and those who raised us. This praise, over the years of our childhood got imprinted deeply into our emotional being and were later subconsciously carried over to our adult lives. These drivers are:
„Be strong“– e.g. staying in control and appearing tough and leader-like; this can be very draining, since people with this driver usually hide their true feelings and insecurities, because they think of them as flaws. They lack the inner strength and stability to openly address them. Leaders with this driver are keeping themselves from becoming #authenticleaders, for authentic leaders are able to admit their mistakes openly; thereby benefiting themselves (growing and maturing as a person and professional) and other (inspiring staff and creating an open, respectful and supportive work environment).
„Be fast“ – the idea behind this one is soften that we don´t allow ourselves to take our time, due to a lack of self-worth and self-love. Thus, addressing this diver during coaching or trainings often includes to learn how to take our time and make ourselves heard again, finding our inner and outer voice, and speaking more slowly.
„Be perfect “– this seems to be a very common one - at least from my experience as a manager and coach. Many professionals actually still think of perfectionism as a good thing. While in reality, it is a real career buster. It will get you to a certain level in your career. But beyond this level, perfectionism will stop you from advancing further (see UTube; German language). The underlying reasons for this driver, once again, lie in how we used to be rewarded when we were kids. So, allow me to give you a piece of advice here and now – from parent to parent: praise your child not only when they perform well according to your own standards and views. Tell them – each day – how much you love them. We all need to be valued and loved for who we are, not for what we do. This is how we build a robust identity and develop a sense of true self-worth. And while we are at it: this also includes appearance. Appearance, as far as I am and the mental well-being of your child are concerned, is not something worth praising. Guess what happens, when you praise your child for how pretty they are all the time? Well, just look at millions of billboards, online ads, Facebook and Instagram pics around – portraying anorectic girls (and boys) who are unable to smile authentically.
„Be helpful“– always being keen to help others and deriving from this a feeling of self-worth. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being of service to others. It´s just that it should not feel like a job. It should not be something that drives you. Real service to others comes from within and stays there. So how to know, if this is a driver to you? Well, take a hard and honest look at yourself and identify situations where you helped others when there was no one else around to witness. In fact, look for situations when there is no chance anyone will ever know that you were the one helping. These are the situations that differentiate between serving others from serving your own longing for self-worth.
„Be hard-working“ – the problem of this driver is not hard to guess: it is extremely exhausting to always show and prove to others, just how hard-working you are. It burns you out. Managers and colleagues with this driver create atmospheres of envy, distrust, and back-stabbing.
A lot said about drivers. And there would be much more. But let´s keep peeling our onion.
The next layer is our desires. Desires are similar to motives, but with a more personal and intimate touch - less often shared with others. Be as clear as you can in defining your key desires. Also consider looking at how open you are when it comes to communicating your real desires - especially with your partner and family. Which ones do you share, which ones are you keeping to yourself - and why?
Peeling yet another layer gets you to your needs. What are your true needs as a person? You will probably come up with physical ones. That’s pretty straight forward. What else? Let’s assume your physical needs are met: You got shelter, food and enough to drink, and you get enough quality and „cuddly” time with your loved one…So beyond physical needs, what other needs do you have? What else do you require on this very fundamental level?
How about emotional needs? Such as calm, serenity, or peace of mind? Time for reflection…? For instance, ask yourself: Do I spend enough time on the most important things in (work-) life?
Build into your weekly schedule enough reflection time. Specifically, block at least 30 minutes at the beginning of each week and at the end for self-reflection.
Useful questions to ask on Mondays: What will a successful week look like? What will I be proud of? What will I be able to do for others? What kind of a leader do I want to be this week?
On Fridays, find answers to these questions. Personally, I like to add another question: What is one thing I want to try this weekend, which I have not done before? Or: What will a fulfilling and happy weekend look and feel like next Monday morning, when I do my 30-minute reflection again? (Live your life to the fullest. It is too short, to let it be eaten up by work.)
So, put these blockers into your calendar right after you finish reading this post (and giving it a thumbs-up, of course). Otherwise, you will postpone and forget.
Now is the time for these blockers in your calendar, remember?!
About the author:
Swen writes and speaks about what he calls “the authentic self” – more authenticity in lives, leadership and careers. He is a life-long learner and student of life and people. At the same time, he also enjoys being a guide and coach for people on their paths of self-reflection and self-discovery.
Find out more about your own authentic self here.