The holiday season is closing in and for many this means some days off, spending valuable time with your family and reflecting on the year that has passed. One of the reflections might be that you want to educate yourself further in 2019 to become an even better coach or leader. It is an admirable thought, to further your own education, but the question that should be asked is not why, but how. The why questions is already answered by wanting to learn more, you want to become a better version of yourself, great! But how will you do this, which courses will you attend, which books will you read and what podcasts will be prioritized in the limited amount of time you have available?
To answer this question in the best possible way you need to have self-awareness combined with a clear vision of your goals and where you want to go. In other words you should be able to objectively describe your own strengths and weaknesses, how you behave when you are under pressure and how you behave when things are going your way. This is something that most people struggle to do even though they might think they know how they behave in a certain situation or what their strengths and weaknesses are, but most people really do not know.
What can you do to increase your level of self-awareness and help you be sure of what you are good at and what you need to improve? Let’s look at four things that is possible to do without investing a lot of money and time while proven to give results.
- Meditate regularly. When speaking of low cost interventions this one is unrivaled at the top. If you are not already doing some meditation, this holiday season is the time to start. Begin with 10-15 minutes in the morning after you’re out of bed and gradually increase the minutes and the amount of times per day. Spending 5-10 minutes on meditation between tough meetings or difficult spells of work is the best recovery for your brain and gives you the chance to maintain a high level of thinking throughout the day. Don’t worry, your thoughts will interfere with the observation of your breathing, probably already after 10 seconds. Accept this and upon realizing that you are thinking of something, just direct yourself back to observing your breathing without labelling any feelings. Eventually you’ll be able to observe your breathing for longer and longer, deeper thought’s about yourself will emerge from your unconscious and this is what will help your self-awareness.
- 10-day Meditation retreat. If there’s one thing you should invest your time in next year it’s attending a 10-day retreat. Read my post about my latest retreat here. This is an investment that has a big pay-off in two direct ways, increasing your meditation technique level so that your every day meditation will be of a higher quality and it will of course raise your level of self-awareness monumentally. It’s also a big challenge to isolate yourself from the outside world for this many days which means you will be very proud of yourself after completing the 10-days. Most people will not even try to go attend a 10-day meditation retreat since they know (unconsciously) that they are slaves to their devices and the people around them. Don’t be like most people.
- Personality test. There are some personality tests that are pretty okay at showing you the mirror. There are also coach-personality tests which are more contextual and focus on how you are in the role of the coach. Doing these tests will probably not reveal anything new about yourself, but it will make you more aware of the things you, at least unconsciously, already know. For example you might know that you think accountability is important, but you might not know that for you it’s way off the scale important which means that this is something that sets you apart from most others. When doing these tests you can look at the results and ask yourself if it’s true, but you can also show the results to the people around you and ask them whether it’s true. Which brings us to our last tip of the day.
- A 360 Audit. You might think you know yourself pretty well and think you have a decent handle on how you behave in different situations. But what does the people around you say? To find out if you actually behave the way in which you think you behave there is only one option, ask the people you interact with most. This might be close family and friends but also colleagues (coaching staff), subordinates (players) and your boss (directors). A 360 audit is one of the more difficult things to do, especially if you feel insecure about yourself. But it’s can also be one of the most telling, revealing and rewarding things you can do to increase your own self-awareness and become a better person. So how can it be done? For example you can send a text to the people closest to you and ask them to list 1-3 things they think you are really good at and 1-3 things they think you can/need to improve. Ask them to be brutally honest and ensure them that you will not hold what they write / say against them. Regardless of what they come up with, make sure to answer with only “thank you for the feedback”.
If you do some or all of the above steps to increase your self-awareness you will have a better chance to decide how to further your own development and not only choose the first flashy course that you see online. However if you really want to make sure that you prioritize your time correctly you also need to have a clear goal and to know where you want to go in your career and in your life.