How to Cultivate Self-Awareness to Gain Confidence and Grow in Your Career

February 9, 2021


It takes a variety of skills to become a leader in your chosen field. Education, training, experience, and networking are among key ingredients for professional success. However, there is another element of aptitude that will elevate your leadership stature as well as your personal brand. Enter self-awareness.

Self-awareness can be described as simply knowing what makes you tick. It is understanding your emotions and recognizing how they can impact others. With high self-awareness, you know your strengths and your challenges. You behave with humility and tend to be more productive at work and with your relationships. What’s more, being self-aware allows you to be more meaningful in the moment (and who doesn’t want to be more meaningful?). Bottom line, self-awareness creates the opportunity to make changes in behavior and beliefs, and this, in turn, develops your confidence and boosts your career.


Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes
as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.”

                                                                                   ~ Lawrence Bossidy

Research conducted by Cornell University showed that high self-awareness was the strongest predictor of overall success. Daniel Goleman, an international renown psychologist known for his in-depth knowledge of emotional intelligence, concurs, saying strong self-awareness is the cornerstone of leadership.


With a developed foundation in self-awareness, individuals are more likely to have strengths in additional leadership competencies such as teamwork, empathy, self-regulation, communication skills, trust, humor, and confidence.


Self-awareness is an essential step in mastering your professional and personal life. Developing this skill puts you in position to see where your emotions and thoughts are taking you. It allows you to be totally tuned in and in control of your emotions and behavior, so you can make the changes you want.

For example, if you experience an emotional reaction of anger or frustration with a co-worker, because of your high self-awareness, you can divert a situation you may regret. Instead of having it out, you recognize your thoughts and triggers that build towards those feelings, and you change or adjust your behavior. By leveraging your strong self-awareness, you instinctively make better choices in managing your thoughts long before an emotional reaction or destructive behavior.

Cultivating your self-awareness takes patience and practice. When you develop high self-awareness, you will immediately notice a change in you. You will likely be happier, healthier, and more confident. Follow these strategies to build upon your self-awareness.

Ask for Feedback
To develop as a leader, asking feedback from others can be an insightful, powerful tool.
Ask your peers, friends, and even your boss for candid feedback. You could say something like, “I’m working hard to develop a stronger sense of self-awareness, could you provide me with feedback of how you see me when communicating with others? I appreciate you being honest with me.”

Take a Personality Assessment
There are plenty of personality assessments available to take online. By taking a credible personality assessment, like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or DiSC, you will be able to better understand your strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. You will also have a keener understanding of how you see the world, how you interact with the world and how you make decisions. It is a great learning tool all professionals should take.

Journaling is good for the soul and mind. By taking time to write down your daily experiences, you will gain a closer look into your thoughts and emotions. Take time to jot down your strengths. This will help build your confidence. Take an inventory of your habits, make a list of your core values, and what gives you motivation. You will be surprised how your words on paper will help hone your self-awareness.

Understand Your Emotions
Practice being aware of your emotions and how you react to them. For example, if you know you typically get frustrated waiting in long lines, then prepare to channel that feeling of frustration into something more positive so you don’t lose your cool. When you focus on changing the interpretation of your feeling in your mind, you will learn to alter negative, unbecoming behaviors.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Developing your self-awareness does not happen overnight. It takes commitment and determination. Practice being mindful of your emotions and how they impact others, and on the flip side, be aware of how you react based on the emotions of others. When developing your self-awareness, it is essential to pay attention to your own behavior, emotions, and personality. Over time, you will grow to be in sync with your emotions and behavior, which will afford you the ability to lead with confidence and self-awareness.

ImbsWebLI 16About the Author: 
Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company Polished help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.


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