The Importance of Self-Awareness
Over the last several years, educators have often heard and read about the importance of “grit” for overcoming life’s inevitable obstacles or “growth mind-set” for developing lifelong learning habits. But I would argue that developing self-knowledge and awareness is equally important to cultivate and achieve these and many other goals we have as educators. Though self-awareness is not discussed nearly as frequently, this quality provides a foundation for many of the characteristics needed to be successful both as a student and in one’s career.
Fortunately, the importance of fostering self-awareness is beginning to gain the traction it deserves. In an article in the Harvard Business Review, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich shared her research and insights into this quality and its range of potential benefits. Eurich observed that people who have developed strong self-awareness are not only more confident, creative, and communicative, they also build healthier relationships and live more ethical lives. For example, they are less likely to lie, steal, or cheat.
But here’s the rub: according to Eurich,
many people believe they are self-aware but only 10-15 percent would be
considered to have this quality. So how can parents and teachers help children have
better access to
their unconscious thoughts, feelings, and motives in order to heighten
metacognition and self-awareness? Eurich suggests that rather than asking “why” questions, adults should
encourage “what” questions.
“‘What’ questions help us stay objective,
future-focused, and empowered
to act on our new insights,” stated Eurich. In other words, people "who focus on building
both internal and external self-awareness, who seek honest feedback from loving
critics, and who ask what instead of why, can learn to see themselves
more clearly—and reap the many rewards that increased self-knowledge delivers,”
stated Eurich in her article.
Along with cultivating grit and developing a growth mind-set, Eurich’s goals are very important for educators to foster in their students, particularly in schools that have character education as a central element in their mission. And like these other qualities we hope to develop in the next generation of leaders, there’s always room to learn more and to then apply this important awareness to a wide variety of circumstances.
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