What is self-awareness?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, self-awareness is, “the Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires”. To have a complete knowledge of self, then, seems like a tall order. Is this knowledge something that can be learnt in a day, or is it the result of a lifetime of learning? Like most things that have worthwhile life-long value, there is a starting place, and a continuing commitment to learning, and it may be something that we cannot do on our own. An old proverb states, “the purpose of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out”. This seems to suggest a process more than a one-time event.
The first step to empowerment
So why is promoting self-awareness so important to our coaching clients? Well, it may be that self-awareness is just the first step to empowerment. Our clients may have a presenting problem (short-term goal) that needs to be explored. It may be something like taking their business to the next level, or resolving a dispute in a relationship, or, perhaps a transition taking place in their career. But often the presenting problem is not the main problem. We have an opportunity as coaches to establish a long-term change in our client‘s mindset, by promoting self-awareness.
Improving our clients’ self-awareness enables them to have a better understanding of themselves. They will be able to experience themselves as unique individuals. Empowerment through self-awareness helps them to make the changes and to build on their areas of strength as well as identify areas where improvements are possible.
Self-awareness helps to unlock our strengths & weaknesses
A client needs to know what is going on, to be real with themselves. They can do this by knowing and establishing their strengths and weaknesses. They may not be fully aware in the initial stages of the coaching relationship of what their strengths and weaknesses are. This is something that the coach can help with, the coach’s role is to give some direction. Encourage them with the experience they already have, and the accomplishments already achieved. The important thing here is to help the client know where they stand at this moment in time.
Our clients are in the driving seat so they need to have great insights in themselves. Knowing not just strengths and weaknesses, but fears and failures as well as successes. Awareness of life events, will help people make better decisions. They need to be real with themselves. It is well said that a man who thinks he cannot be deceived – is already deceived! Empowering our clients through promoting self-awareness will help them to make better decisions.
A client with good self-awareness seems to know what is right for them at the moment. They know what works and what doesn’t work. They know what they are doing right and what needs fixing. A coach can support and encourage a client in the things that they are doing right, that are helping them to get to their goals, even when they may not realise it themselves.
Being self-aware for more powerful decision-making
Self-aware clients are able to make good decisions and give themselves good advice, even when circumstances and people around them are trying to derail them. It is important that clients can take confident ownership in their own decisions especially in the big decisions. A coach’s role here is that good questions are better than good advice. Promoting self-awareness in a client helps them to know themselves, to know what they know, and what they don’t know. Self-awareness helps to bring all of the factors in to play in such a way that they can predict outcomes.