According to the Harvard Business Review (Feb, 2007), self-awareness has just been recognized as the most important capability for leaders to develop. I would add that this is a quality that is beneficial for anyone to develop. After all, we are all leaders somewhere in our lives aren’t we? Emotions can play an important role in our careers, education, at home, in our community, and in all our relationships.

Ever find that you get upset easily or fairly regularly? Maybe you feel overwhelmed most of the time, stressed out, or even tired?

Remember the old joke, “Doc, my arm hurts when I move it like this. What should I do?” To which the good doctor quickly responds, Stop moving it like that.” If your life, career, relationships… (fill in the blank) are not going the way you’d like…maybe it’s time you took a hard look at “yourself” … more specifically, your lack of self-awareness.

What is Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions, allowing us to plan our actions and develop proactive behaviors. People with greater certainty about feelings are better pilots of their lives, having a surer sense of how they really feel about personal decisions from whom to marry to what job to take.

Why is it Important

This is where constructive or critical thinking happens. As you work to develop your self-awareness you increase your self-confidence. A good leader knows when you understand yourself you are more likely to understand others. Now that’s a skill that can come in handy. Any one striving to increase their skills needs a solid plan.

How Do I Make A Plan

The process is not a quick fix rather it is a life long commitment. Change happens over time. So be patient with yourself while you are learning. Self-awareness allows us to take responsibility for our outcomes, plan our actions, and develop proactive behaviors. Here are some suggestions to get you going in the right direction.

1. Assessment- Assessments can identify your strengths, challenges, and personal style. Also, they mark a baseline and measure growth.

2. Goal setting- Now that you understand your unique style you can create a plan that identifies specific skills that are congruent with your preferences and tendencies yet challenges you to develop new behaviors.

3. Accountability- We all need to be accountable. Recruit a friend, a mentor, or hire a coach. Who ever you decide to work with, collaborate on a plan that spells out exactly what you need from them.

4. Support/Feedback- Feedback is probably the most important dimension in your personal development plan. It is through feedback we can learn to “see ourselves as others see us.”

By developing your self-awareness you are increasing your emotional intelligence. The knowledge and skills that you develop to accurately identify and express your emotions are vital for human performance not to mention, physical health.

Author's Bio: 

Copyright 2007 Michelle Simms, personal development coach, works with individuals and groups worldwide at