How Self-Aware Are You?

Warren Buffett once said, “I look for three things when hiring people. The first is personal integrity. The second is intelligence. The third is high energy levels. If you don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”

This idea of personal integrity is worth breaking down, because it’s a concept we usually apply to other people, asking ourselves: Is this a person of integrity? Does he do what he says he’s going to do? or Can I trust her?

However, before we can look for integrity in others, we must first have integrity with ourselves. This means being able to hear all the voices and conversations, and then doing the right things based on our understanding of ourselves.

This is where self-awareness becomes important. We must ask ourselves, Am I aware of the things that are going on in me and that inform me?

In order for the world to see me as a person of integrity, I must first see it in myself. However, if I’m disconnected on the inside or at war with myself, things start to unravel. One part of me wants to take one course of action, and another part wants to do the opposite. One part says: That’s not a good idea. Another part says: It is a good idea. And I get conflicted. How can I present to the world a person who has integrity when, in fact, I’m very confused?

Having integrity with ourselves means getting to know ourselves, and as I mention in the first section of my book, the challenge is making the time necessary to do it. Everyone is so busy that few of us spend time quietly reflecting. Everything is motivated toward taking action and getting results. It’s all about the bottom line. No one is taking the time to be still and ask: Who am I? What am I? How do people perceive me? What is the nature of how I am shaped? If we don’t know the answers to these questions, we’re not truly self-aware.

One simple way to increase self-awareness is to begin by assessing your behavioral hardwiring—the result of your genetic encoding or your environment during those formative early years of childhood. This hardwiring can be read by numerous behavioral-assessment instruments. I use DISC. There are many versions of it, and developers have used colors, charts, circles and even animals. To me, however, nothing beats having a well-written report or a narrative from the report that is accurate but not over the top or laced with too many rigid observations. When two people share their results, it starts a conversation, and that is the best place to begin. Maybe mention a few good assessments that you use?

There’s a wide variety of assessments that essentially provide the same data, and it’s good information to have, but behavioral hardwiring is not all there is to a person. We’ll address other components of self-awareness in next month’s blog.