Self-Awareness: The Short-Cut to Greatness

May 13 2015
By: Greg Ford

Since the beginning of time, successful people around the world have shared similar personality characteristics.

Martin Luther King inspired a movement with his ability to instill emotion in his fellow people. Winston Churchill made a war-torn nation stand up with confidence and fight a seemingly unstoppable enemy. Mahatma Ghandi used civil disobedience to change the world for Indians, at home and in South Africa. Steve Jobs inspired a technological revolution with creativity and an uncanny knack for capturing an audience.

Behavioral science will tell you that these great people had specific personality characteristics that led them to behave in the way they did. Research into psychology and personality will provide evidence that they were great because they were born great.

But what about the rest of us?

Chances are, you may consider yourself a bit more "ordinary" than the leaders of history. However, you have the potential to achieve your own personal greatness.

Through self-awareness, we can learn how to interrupt our natural default behaviors that keep us from behaving in a way that is productive, efficient, and safe. By taking control of our own self-awareness and truly understanding who we are underneath it all, we can achieve our own greatness in our own lives. The only thing holding us back is ourselves.

Take one of my friends for instance. He was not a social person by birth; he has consciously developed the skills of communication and education to a point that those who meet him would describe him as a talkative and very pleasant person. Little do they know that he exerts a significant amount of energy in social situations - far less than people like him who naturally derives great pleasure from social interaction.

How did he do it? Through a heightened sense of self-awareness.

If my friend recognized that he was uncomfortable in a situation, he would remind himself of why it's important that he develops these skills. In times of stress or confusion, when his natural default personality was at its strongest, he learned to be in control, behave in the way he wanted to, and ignore his sometimes risky gut reactions.

You too can rise to new heights by first learning why you act the way you do. Through this self-reflection you can leverage your innate strengths to improve your decision making and behavior both at work and at home.


Greg is the co-founder and CEO of TalentClick Workforce Solutions and an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Greg holds a degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Workplace Learning. He is the co-author of the safety book "Before It Happens" and has spoken at conferences across North America.

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