"Lord, grant that we may always be right, for thou knowest we will never change our minds."
Old Scottish Prayer

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 488

Estimated reading time:  3:15 minutes


I’ve been working recently on the chapter in my book on “self awareness.” I do not think that many of us are as ‘self-aware’ as we like to think. Far too many of us, for example have mistaken ‘self awareness’ with fitting in. Making sure that we wear the right clothes, do the right kind of work, have the right social connections to ensure we are recognized as a member of a particular brand tribe. A couple of years ago I was doing some political work and appearing at a rally. I was carrying a Starbucks cup containing my tea. Suddenly, one of my team walked up to me, took the cup out of my hand and walked away. I was startled and wondered ‘why did she steal my tea?’ She then caught my eye and mouthed the word “cameras” at me. Sure enough she had seen that the media cameras had turned in my direction, and me carrying a “Starbucks” cup would signify I was part of one brand tribe and would exclude me from other brand tribes. I was not very ‘self-aware’ in one of the more common understandings of self-awareness. 

The work of deepening self-awareness required for the digital (r)evolution is much more  complex than worrying about the brand of cup I carry.  Self Awareness is the continuous asking “who am I becoming?”  The journey is one of constant seeking for your deeper self. Carl Jung’s famous line sums it up nicely; ‘I am not what happened to me, I am who I choose to become.’ 


The question of “who am I becoming” is most often understood as a question of middle age. We spend our 20’s and 30’s normally focused on external trappings, pleasing our hungry ego with signs of material success. Our 40’s and 50’s are when we begin to wrestle with deeper questions of who we are below the surface of our ego. I believe the emerging generation are ready for these deeper questions and given the speed of change in the midst of the (r)evolution, they’ll need to be seeking their own answers to the question “who am I becoming” sooner than previous generations.


So here are three questions to get you started on this deeper journey of self-awareness:


  1. Ask yourself, “who am I?” and you cannot limit your answer to roles. You cannot therefore answer with, mother, brother, leader, lawyer, daughter etc.
  2. What do other people count on me for? What do they believe they cannot count on me for? 
  3. What are the stories about my self that I’d like to hear at my own funeral?


The journey begins with a single step. May this week be one of even small steps to uncovering your deepest self.