Coach Me Free logo

The Courage to Know Ourselves for Change to Happen.

Coach Massimo Roselli by Massimo Roselli
View the authors Profile

There is a general belief that job satisfaction usually increases linearly with age. After spending quite some time on building a successful career, we often get to a place where we feel in control and where we can benefit from our financial power, our status and our level of influence. However, research has shown that much like life satisfaction dips at mid-life, so too does career satisfaction. Even the most successful professionals can have this experience regardless of how great they are at their jobs. This is the moment when we often start questioning the success we have created along our journey and getting overwhelmed with feelings of frustration, confusion, anger, fear, demotivation to name a few. We start inhabiting the most disparate worlds of thoughts hindering our capacity to take some initial steps towards a clear vision of how to create a new version of success based on fulfilment and meaning. It's usually during these times that most of us begin to contemplate a career transition. We want to make a change, very often we don't know what that change looks like while continuing with our existing jobs and feeling more isolated, stressed, anxious or even depressed. Some of us might decide to adopt a more drastic approach by leaving our jobs and secure new jobs that often turn out to be the wrong choice. 

One of the strategies I usually recommend to my clients at a crossroads in their career is developing their self-awareness. Self-awareness involves being aware of different aspects of the self including traits, behaviours, and feelings. It's a psychological state where the focus of our attention is on ourselves. It plays a critical role in how we understand ourselves and how we relate to others and the world. It's not a quick fix, it's a journey that will help us create the success we want to see in our personal and professional life. 

How do we build self-awareness?

Let's start from our beliefs. Our beliefs impact our behaviours, our emotions and how we relate to others. We do not always know how to identify and understand our beliefs. There's a very popular coaching model called "The ABC model" (A stands for activating event, B stands for belief and C stands for consequences). Whenever we want to explore our beliefs and gain a better understanding of them, we could start with recalling how the event was initiated. We take a step back and make an effort to observe the event with no emotional attachment to the situation or the people involved. We then ask ourselves what we believed to be true about the situation. The final step of this exercise is to list the consequences of our beliefs. What happened in the situation because of our beliefs? How did we behave? What was the impact of our behaviour? Did it create a ripple effect?  Often it's the belief about the event that impacts how we respond to the situation. 

The source of our motivation is another building block of our self-awareness.  Daniel Pink in his bestseller Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, argues that organisations and organisational leaders should adopt a new self-determination approach to motivation, by focusing on people's drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected. When it comes to motivation, there's a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system - which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators - doesn't work and often does harm. The new approach as science shows is based on three essential elements: autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), mastery (the urge to get better and better at something that matters), purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves). There are times when we are driven by external rewards and time when we are driven by internal motivators. What activities in our work are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose? Examples of internal motivators could be belonging, curiosity, love, meaning, learning, intellectual challenge to name a few. 

What about our values? Do we know what our values are? Can we articulate what we stand for? Values direct how we interact with others and the way we fit in in different situations. 

 An exercise we can do is to reflect on our last 4 assignments and identify what we liked, what we disliked and why about the job, the company and the manager. This reflection exercise helps us start gaining some clarity on what is important to us before moving forward. Another way to help us identify our values could be thinking about those times in our personal and professional lives when we experienced joy and fulfilment. When was it? Where were we? What were we doing? Were we on own own or with other people? How did we feel physically and emotionally? What values influenced the decisions we made at certain stages in our life? How did they show up in the actions we took? Did we make those decisions on our own or jointly with someone else? How are we going to deliver these values in the future? What might prevent us from actioning on them?

Embracing continuous improvement through feedbacks is also key to develop a robust self-awareness. Listening without judgment to someone else's feedback can help us improve our relationships, our productivity, our motivation and our working practices. Reviewing how we comes across, refining our approach to other and the repeating the process can facilitate continuous improvement in our career and in our life. 

Embracing continuous improvement also means appreciating other perspectives. Sometimes this means stepping outside our comfort zone by observing the situation and recognising the emotions involved. 

These exercises are mostly based on reflections and are very easy to try. There are multiple ways to help us build and strengthen our self-awareness if we are curious about it. We can keep a reflective journal, we can questions ourselves on how we respond to stress (how do we know when we are stressed? How do we feel under stress? What events or situations trigger stressful feelings for us? What behaviours do we display when we are stressed?)

My message is that quite often we want to avoid the pain that a transition journey brings along especially on the outset. It would be very easy to either pretend that nothing is really happening and throw ourselves into our daily job - and life - on an autopilot mode or to follow our strong emotions, leave our current job, rush on applying for other jobs and potentially land a role that we then find out it's not really for us. 

Going through a process where we become more familiar with what we know about ourselves, our behaviours, our knowledge, our skills, our attitudes, our "public history; a journey where we gain clarity on our blind spots; where we face the things we know about ourselves but that we want others not to know and that we want to avoid; where we discover things that are unknown to us and others, would help us set some solid foundations for our roadmap towards the change we want to see. This process doesn't have to be painful and doesn't have to be long - it all depends on how committed we are to wanting the change happen and how much ego (our limiting beliefs, our comfort zone, our pride, our fears, seeking for approvals, pleasing people, ignoring someone else's feelings and perspectives, etc.) we need to turn into something that serves our growth. 

Log in or Register to contact this coach.

Click here view more info about this coach, Massimo Roselli