Maintaining an accurate understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses
What is it?
Self-awareness is the ability to take an accurate inventory of our strengths and weaknesses and to be aware of our emotions in our personal and professional lives.
Why is it important?
With Self-Awareness, we can intentionally capitalize on strengths and work to mitigate weaknesses. Knowing what we’re good at gives us the confidence to tackle new challenges and learn new skills. By contrast, unless we know where we’re deficient, we will rarely be motivated to make changes. Being tenaciously honest about our shortcomings helps us know what we need to work on. There is no shame in having weaknesses, and knowing what they are and working to mitigate them only makes us more credible with peers, coworkers, and direct reports.
- Ask for Feedback
Professionals in a fast paced environment, such as healthcare, often don’t know or care what others think of them. This may be due to a lack of time, adversity to self-reflection, or a need to prioritize. We should be *very* interested in how we are perceived by patients and co-workers. Unawareness is dangerous territory. However, we won’t always know what we do well or poorly until we ask. This simple act not only engenders good faith but also yields meaningful information that can help us become better leaders, co-workers, and practicing nurses. As a leader, we likely need to adapt our working style for particular employees, peers, or patients, in order to enhance our communication and optimize performance.
- Find a Mentor
A good mentor is one who will tell us the truth. It’s not always easy to get honest feedback from direct reports due to the power differential in the relationship. Mentees are often afraid that if they’re honest, they’ll strain the relationship or be punished. Mentors don’t have that problem as often. Find someone who will be brutally honest with you and ask them for feedback. Have them do an assessment of your skills and make recommendations about what you need to do to improve. Create a development plan and get together periodically to discuss your progress.
- Know your Triggers
Finally, we have to be keenly aware of when we are feeling angry, hurt, or anxious. After identifying our emotions, we can figure out what triggered those feelings. We might feel frustrated with underperforming co-workers/employees or feel saddened by the loss of a patient. When we don’t understand the source of our emotions, we lose perspective and become stuck. Over time, we experience significant emotional distress and get worn down. While it’s not always easy to do, the formula is clear. Be aware of negative emotions, understand where they came from, and then use your understanding to work through them or put them in perspective.