The Oscar for Self-Awareness Goes To…You?

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As we approach the Oscars, no few fictional accounts would be more surprising than the 2016 reality that is the Hamar tribe of southern Ethiopia. There, the rites of passage to becoming a man include the tribe member running naked, over the backs of five bulls held together by other tribal members. If the individual can run backwards and forwards three times without falling off, he achieves manhood.

In support of this effort, during the afternoon before the bull running attempt, to prove their strength and solidarity, female relatives seek out male adults and aggressively pursue the men to hit them with a cane! Further when they are struck and scarred they are happy and smiling and when they are not, they overtly disappointed.

Rewards and Punishment – Rewards are not the same for any one person (or tribe) and the same rewards’ value can vary at different times. Society defines what rewards and success are. Conventional thinking here in the west is unofficially defined as being ‘big!’ (Office, car, salary, title) But, big for you can be (self-esteem, knowledge, free time, family, spirituality, learning).

There is no ‘right’ or wrong reward. That said, what is failure for me is a lack of self-awareness as to what we regard as reward and what is a punishment. Without this self-knowledge you will not recognize a great opportunity, even when presented to you.

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Growth and Nemesis – When you think about it, there are only two career directions. Forwards or backwards, progression or regression! And, growth, or stagnation, do not manifest in an orderly fashion but tend to be staggered, altering as we are confronted by major challenges or crossroads.

When they say that life is ‘all about timing’ they are really saying, prepare for the next crossroads! And, when I talk with anyone that is at or approaching a career junction, while they think they are talking about being bored or frustrated or at a lack of pay rise or new opportunity, they are in fact talking about their lack of growth: Financial, technical, vertical, interpersonal, managerial.

So, what is forwards for you? What does growth look like?

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Time – Are you making effective use of it? -Would you say that you are going through the motions, versus using your time effectively either in what you are creating now or through where the current experience will take you? If you know you could do more, much more, you owe it yourself to step up and to be more proactive. And, this is the best way to prepare for the next job (as you are more likely to be noticed when energetic/proactive.) Then again, perhaps you are you unsure whether you are using your time effectively.

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What’s needed to effectively assess your own situation? – Dependent on who you ask and based on their agendas, you will receive multiple perspectives on whether you are a huge waste of space or a pillar of the business. Impartial mentors and advocates are great to have in your lives but if you don’t, you need to find a way to effectively self-assess.

To effectively self-assess you need from time to time to get out of your ‘daily skin!’ Getting context and perspective on how things are really going for you is key to knowing anything. The quality of the assessment is also important, so a quality chance to reflect is key. Earthing encapsulates a broad ability to see clearly, to feel every day and truly enjoying your existence. Living in this mode is a combination of skills and habits that take time.

Personally I find remote travel a great way to look back on my life (away from the daily fray) and dispassionately assess what’s working and not, how I want so spend my time and don’t, the impact I hope to make through my work and am currently making or not!

How do you know if you’re on track? – Goal setting is part of the answer as is intermittent assessment of those goals, of who you want to be and the actions you want to experience. As important you need to be ‘actively’ involved in your own development on an on-going basis, not just occasionally.

Mindfulness/AKA Not going through the motions like an automaton – Along with intermittent time out reflection and assessment, we all need on an on-going basis, a true sense of self, which some refer to as mindfulness. For me, this is all about not being a robot! Not going through our lives unconsciously but the opposite! And if we know there is a poor quality to our day-to-day life, we pursue this course knowing what we are making the sacrifice of poorly spent time for. This understanding then justifies the time usage. That is, if we put up with boring, frustrating work, in growth-unfriendly environments, we do this knowing at some stage there is a pay-off, for us!

Alien