Self-AwarenessHarvard Business Review, Marcus Buckingham, Robert Steven Kaplan, Susan David, Tasha Eurich
Self-awareness is the bedrock of emotional intelligence that enables you to see your talents, shortcomings, and potential. But you won't be able to achieve true self-awareness with the usual quarterly feedback and self-reflection alone.
This book will teach you how to understand your thoughts and emotions, how to persuade your colleagues to share what they really think of you, and why self-awareness will spark more productive and rewarding relationships with your employees and bosses.
This volume includes the work of:
Robert Steven Kaplan
HOW TO BE HUMAN AT WORK.
The HBR Emotional Intelligence Series features smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life from the pages of Harvard Business Review. Each book in the series offers proven research showing how our emotions impact our work lives, practical advice for managing difficult people and situations, and inspiring essays on what it means to tend to our emotional well-being at work. Uplifting and practical, these books describe the social skills that are critical for ambitious professionals to master.
This book will teach you how to understand your thoughts and emotions, how to persuade your colleagues to share what they really think of you, and why self-awareness will spark more productive and rewarding relationships with your employees and bosses.
This volume includes the work of:
Robert Steven Kaplan
HOW TO BE HUMAN AT WORK.
The HBR Emotional Intelligence Series features smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life from the pages of Harvard Business Review. Each book in the series offers proven research showing how our emotions impact our work lives, practical advice for managing difficult people and situations, and inspiring essays on what it means to tend to our emotional well-being at work. Uplifting and practical, these books describe the social skills that are critical for ambitious professionals to master.
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13 May 2019 (07:27)
US$19.99 MANAGEMENT Self-awareness is the bedrock of emotional intelligence that enables you to see your talents, shortcomings, and potential. But you won’t be able to achieve true self-awareness with the usual quarterly feedback and self-reflection alone. This volume includes the work of: Daniel Goleman Robert Steven Kaplan Susan David HOW TO BE HUMAN AT WORK. The HBR Emotional Intelligence Series features smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life from the pages of Harvard Business Review. Each book in the series offers proven research showing how our emotions impact our work lives, practical advice for managing difficult people and situations, and inspiring essays on what it means to tend to our emotional well-being at work. Uplifting and practical, these books describe the social skills that are critical for ambitious professionals to master. ISBN-13: 978-1-63369-661-7 90000 HBR.ORG 9 781633 696617 SELF-AWARENESS This book will teach you how to understand your thoughts and emotions, how to persuade your colleagues to share what they really think of you, and why self-awareness will spark more productive and rewarding relationships with your employees and bosses. Emotional Intelligence SELF AWARENESS Self-Awareness HBR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE SERIES H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd i 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd ii 9/7/18 11:01 AM HBR Emotional Intelligence Series How to be human at work The HBR Emotional Intelligence Series features smart, essential reading on the human side of professional life from the pages of Harvard Business Review. Authentic Leadership Leadership Presence Conﬁdence Mindful Listening Dealing with Diﬃcult People Mindfulness Empathy Purpose, Meaning, and Passion Focus Resilience Happiness Self-Awareness Inﬂuence and Persuasion Other books on emotional intelligence from Harvard Business Review: HBR Everyday Emotional Intelligence HBR Guide to Emotional Intelligence HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd iii 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd iv 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness HBR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE SERIES Harvard Business Review Press Boston, Massachusetts H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd v 9/7/18 11:01 AM HBR Press Quantity Sales Discounts Harvard Business Review Press titles are available at signiﬁcant quantity discounts when purchased in bulk for client gifts, sales promotions, and premiums. Special editions, including books with corporate logos, customized covers, and letters from the company or CEO printed in the front matter, as well as excerpts of existing books, can also be created in large quantities for special needs. For details and discount information for both print and ebook formats, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 800-988-0886, or www.hbr .org/bulksales. Copyright 2019 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Requests for permission should be directed to email@example.com, or mailed to Permissions, Harvard Business School Publishing, 60 Harvard Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02163. The web addresses referenced in this book were live and correct at the time of the book’s publication but may be subject to change. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Title: Self-awareness. Other titles: HBR emotional intelligence series. Description: Boston, Massachusetts : Harvard Business Review Press,  Series: HBR emotional intelligence series Identiﬁers: LCCN 2018022311 | ISBN 9781633696617 (pbk. : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Self-consciousness (Awareness) | Employees—Psychology. | Management. | Emotional intelligence. Classiﬁcation: LCC BF311 .S4345 2018 | DDC 153—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018022311 eISBN: 978-1-63369-662-4 The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives Z39.48-1992. H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd vi 9/7/18 11:01 AM Contents 1. The First Component of Emotional Intelligence 1 The key to understanding your emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. By Daniel Goleman 2. What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) 11 See yourself from the inside and outside. By Tasha Eurich 3. Successful Leaders Know What Made Them Who They Are 37 Lessons from the greats. By Bernie Swain H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd vii 9/7/18 11:01 AM Contents 4. Two Ways to Clarify Your Professional Passions 49 Know what drives you. By Robert Steven Kaplan 5. Emotional Agility 59 Accept your feelings and act on your values. By Susan David and Christina Congleton 6. Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reﬂection (Even if You Hate Doing It) 75 Stop dreading it and start small. By Jennifer Porter 7. You, By the Numbers 87 A data-driven path to knowing yourself. By H. James Wilson 8. How Are You Perceived at Work? Here’s an Exercise to Find Out 109 Two questions to get real feedback. By Kristi Hedges viii H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd viii 9/7/18 11:01 AM Contents 9. How to Solicit Negative Feedback When Your Manager Doesn’t Want to Give It 119 Show you’re committed to self-improvement. By Deborah Grayson Riegel 10. Find the Coaching in Criticism 129 Counter your natural resistance. By Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone 11. Shakespeare’s Characters Show Us How Personal Growth Should Happen 149 To change yourself, discover yourself. By Declan Fitzsimons Index 157 ix H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd ix 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd x 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness HBR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE SERIES H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd xi 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd xii 9/7/18 11:01 AM 1 The First Component of Emotional Intelligence By Daniel Goleman 1 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 1 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 2 9/7/18 11:01 AM S elf-awareness is the ﬁrst component of emotional intelligence—which makes sense when one considers that the Delphic oracle gave the advice to “know thyself ” thousands of years ago. Self-awareness means having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest—with themselves and with others. People who have a high degree of self-awareness recognize how their feelings affect them, other people, and their job performance. Thus, a self-aware person who knows that tight deadlines bring out the 3 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 3 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness worst in him plans his time carefully and gets his work done well in advance. Another person with high self-awareness will be able to work with a demanding client. She will understand the client’s impact on her moods and the deeper reasons for her frustration. “Their trivial demands take us away from the real work that needs to be done,” she might explain. And she will go one step further and turn her anger into something constructive. Self-awareness extends to a person’s understanding of his or her values and goals. Someone who is highly self-aware knows where he is headed and why; so, for example, he will be able to be ﬁrm in turning down a job offer that is tempting ﬁnancially but does not ﬁt with his principles or long-term goals. A person who lacks self-awareness is apt to make decisions that bring on inner turmoil by treading on buried values. “The money looked good so I signed on,” someone might say two years into a job, “but the work means so little to me that I’m constantly 4 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 4 9/7/18 11:01 AM The First Component of Emotional Intelligence bored.” The decisions of self-aware people mesh with their values; consequently, they often ﬁnd work to be energizing. How can one recognize self-awareness? First and foremost, it shows itself as candor and an ability to assess oneself realistically. People with high selfawareness are able to speak accurately and openly— although not necessarily effusively or confessionally—about their emotions and the impact they have on their work. For instance, one manager I know of was skeptical about a new personal-shopper service that her company, a major department-store chain, was about to introduce. Without prompting from her team or her boss, she offered them an explanation: “It’s hard for me to get behind the rollout of this service,” she admitted, “because I really wanted to run the project, but I wasn’t selected. Bear with me while I deal with that.” The manager did indeed examine her feelings; a week later, she was supporting the project fully. 5 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 5 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness Such self-knowledge often shows itself in the hiring process. Ask a candidate to describe a time he got carried away by his feelings and did something he later regretted. Self-aware candidates will be frank in admitting to failure—and will often tell their tales with a smile. One of the hallmarks of self-awareness is a self-deprecating sense of humor. Self-awareness can also be identiﬁed during performance reviews. Self-aware people know—and are comfortable talking about—their limitations and strengths, and they often demonstrate a thirst for constructive criticism. By contrast, people with low self-awareness interpret the message that they need to improve as a threat or a sign of failure. Self-aware people can also be recognized by their self-conﬁdence. They have a ﬁrm grasp of their capabilities and are less likely to set themselves up to fail by, for example, overstretching on assignments. They know, too, when to ask for help. And the risks they take on the job are calculated. They won’t ask for 6 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 6 9/7/18 11:01 AM The First Component of Emotional Intelligence a challenge that they know they can’t handle alone. They’ll play to their strengths. Consider the actions of a midlevel employee who was invited to sit in on a strategy meeting with her company’s top executives. Although she was the most junior person in the room, she did not sit there quietly, listening in awestruck or fearful silence. She knew she had a head for clear logic and the skill to present ideas persuasively, and she offered cogent suggestions about the company’s strategy. At the same time, her self-awareness stopped her from wandering into territory where she knew she was weak. Despite the value of having self-aware people in the workplace, my research indicates that senior executives don’t often give self-awareness the credit it deserves when they look for potential leaders. Many executives mistake candor about feelings for “wimpiness” and fail to give due respect to employees who openly acknowledge their shortcomings. Such people 7 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 7 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness WHAT MAKES A LEADER? What distinguishes great leaders from merely good ones? It isn’t IQ or technical skills, says Daniel Goleman. It’s emotional intelligence: a group of ﬁve skills that enable the best leaders to maximize their own and their followers’ performance. When senior managers at one company had a critical mass of emotional intelligence (EI) capabilities, their divisions outperformed yearly earnings goals by 20%. The EI skills are: • Self-awareness: knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and impact on others are too readily dismissed as “not tough enough” to lead others. In fact, the opposite is true. In the ﬁrst place, people generally admire and respect candor. Furthermore, leaders are constantly required to make judgment 8 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 8 9/7/18 11:01 AM The First Component of Emotional Intelligence • Self-regulation: controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods • Motivation: relishing achievement for its own sake • Empathy: understanding other people’s emotional makeup • Social skill: building rapport with others to move them in desired directions We’re each born with certain levels of EI skills. But we can strengthen these abilities through persistence, practice, and feedback from colleagues or coaches. calls that require a candid assessment of capabilities—their own and those of others. Do we have the management expertise to acquire a competitor? Can we launch a new product within six months? People who assess themselves honestly—that is, self-aware 9 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 9 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness people—are well suited to do the same for the organizations they run. DANIEL GOLEMAN is codirector of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, coauthor of Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, and author of The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights, Leadership: Selected Writings and A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World. His latest book is Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. Excerpted from “What Makes a Leader?” in Harvard Business Review, January 2004 (product #RO401H). 10 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 10 9/7/18 11:01 AM 2 What SelfAwareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) By Tasha Eurich 11 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 11 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 12 9/7/18 11:01 AM S elf-awareness seems to have become the latest management buzzword—and for good reason. Research suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more conﬁdent and more creative.1 We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.2 We’re less likely to lie, cheat, and steal.3 We are better workers who get more promotions.4 And we’re more effective leaders with more satisﬁed employees and more proﬁtable companies.5 As an organizational psychologist and executive coach, I’ve had a ringside seat to the power of leadership self-awareness for nearly 15 years. I’ve also seen 13 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 13 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness how attainable this skill is. Yet, when I ﬁrst began to delve into the research on self-awareness, I was surprised by the striking gap between the science and the practice of self-awareness. All things considered, we knew surprisingly little about improving this critical skill. Four years ago, my team of researchers and I embarked on a large-scale scientiﬁc study of selfawareness. In 10 separate investigations with nearly 5,000 participants, we examined what self-awareness really is, why we need it, and how we can increase it. Our research revealed many surprising roadblocks, myths, and truths about what self-awareness is and what it takes to improve it. We’ve found that even though most people believe they are self-aware, selfawareness is a truly rare quality: We estimate that only 10%–15% of the people we studied actually ﬁt the criteria. Three ﬁndings in particular stood out, and are helping us develop practical guidance for how leaders can learn to see themselves more clearly. 14 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 14 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) ABOUT OUR RESEARCH The major components of our research included: • Analyzing the results of nearly 800 existing scientiﬁc studies to understand how previous researchers deﬁned self-awareness, unearthing themes and trends, and identifying the limitations of these investigations. • Surveying thousands of people across countries and industries to explore the relationship between self-awareness and several key attitudes and behaviors, like job satisfaction, empathy, happiness, and stress. We also surveyed those who knew these people well to determine the relationship between self ratings and other ratings of self-awareness. • Developing and validating a seven-factor, multi-rater assessment of self-awareness, because our review of the research didn’t identify (Continued) 15 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 15 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness ABOUT OUR RESEARCH any strong, well-validated, comprehensive measures. • Conducting in-depth interviews with 50 people who had dramatically improved their selfawareness to learn about the key actions that helped them get there, as well as their beliefs and practices. Our interviewees included entrepreneurs, professionals, executives, and even a Fortune 100 CEO. (To be included in our study, participants had to clear four hurdles: (1) they had to see themselves as highly self-aware, which we measured using our validated assessment, (2) using that same assessment, someone who knew them well had to agree, (3) they had to believe they’d experienced an upward trend of self-awareness over the course of their life. Each participant was asked to recall their 16 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 16 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) level of self-awareness at diﬀerent stages of their life up to their current (for example, early adulthood: ages 19–24, adulthood: ages 25–34, midlife: ages 35–49, mature adulthood: ages 50–80), and (4) the person rating them had to agree with the participants’ recollections.) • Surveying hundreds of managers and their employees to learn more about the relationship between leadership self-awareness and employee attitudes like commitment, leadership eﬀectiveness, and job satisfaction. Coauthors of this work are Haley M. Woznyj, Longwood University; Phoenix Van Wagoner, Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado; Eric D. Heggestad, University of North Carolina, Charlotte; and Apryl Brodersen, Metropolitan State University of Denver. We want to thank Dr. Stefanie Johnson for her contributions to our study as well. 17 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 17 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness #1: There are two types of self-awareness For the last 50 years, researchers have used varying deﬁnitions of self-awareness. For example, some see it as the ability to monitor our inner world, whereas others label it as a temporary state of selfconsciousness.6 Still others describe it as the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us.7 So before we could focus on how to improve selfawareness, we needed to synthesize these ﬁndings and create an overarching deﬁnition. Across the studies we examined, two broad categories of self-awareness kept emerging. The ﬁrst, which we dubbed internal self-awareness, represents how clearly we see our own values, passions, aspirations, ﬁt with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weak- 18 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 18 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) nesses), and impact on others. We’ve found that internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression. The second category, external self-awareness, means understanding how other people view us, in terms of those same factors listed above. Our research shows that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives. For leaders who see themselves as their employees do, their employees tend to have a better relationship with them, feel more satisﬁed with them, and see them as more effective in general. It’s easy to assume that being high on one type of awareness would mean being high on the other. But our research has found virtually no relationship between them. As a result, we identify four leadership archetypes, each with a different set of opportunities to improve, as seen in ﬁgure 1. 19 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 19 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness FIGURE 1 The four self-awareness archetypes Low internal self-awareness High internal self-awareness This 2 × 2 maps internal self-awareness (how well you know yourself) against external self-awareness (how well you understand how others see you). Low external self-awareness High external self-awareness INTROSPECTORS AWARE They’re clear on who they are but don’t challenge their own views or search for blind spots by getting feedback from others. This can harm their relationships and limit their success. They know who they are, what they want to accomplish, and seek out and value others’ opinions. This is where leaders begin to fully realize the true beneﬁts of self-awareness. SEEKERS PLEASERS They don’t yet know who they are, what they stand for, or how their teams see them. As a result, they might feel stuck or frustrated with their performance and relationships. They can be so focused on appearing a certain way to others that they could be overlooking what matters to them. Over time, they tend to make choices that aren’t in service of their own success and fulﬁllment. 20 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 20 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) When it comes to internal and external selfawareness, it’s tempting to value one over the other. But leaders must actively work on both seeing themselves clearly and getting feedback to understand how others see them. The highly self-aware people we interviewed were actively focused on balancing the scale. Take Jeremiah, a marketing manager. Early in his career, he focused primarily on internal selfawareness—for example, deciding to leave his career in accounting to pursue his passion for marketing. But when he had the chance to get candid feedback during a company training, he realized that he wasn’t focused enough on how he was showing up. Jeremiah has since placed an equal importance on both types of self-awareness, which he believes has helped him reach a new level of success and fulﬁllment. The bottom line is that self-awareness isn’t one truth. It’s a delicate balance of two distinct, even competing, viewpoints. (If you’re interested in learning 21 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 21 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness where you stand in each category, you can take a free shortened version of our multi-rater self-awareness assessment at insight-quiz.com). #2: Experience and power hinder self-awareness Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that people do not always learn from experience, that expertise does not help people root out false information, and that seeing ourselves as highly experienced can keep us from doing our homework, seeking disconﬁrming evidence, and questioning our assumptions.8 And just as experience can lead to a false sense of conﬁdence about our performance, it can also make us overconﬁdent about our level of self-knowledge. For example, one study found that more experienced managers were less accurate in assessing their lead- 22 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 22 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) ership effectiveness compared with less experienced managers.9 Similarly, the more power a leader holds, the more likely they are to overestimate their skills and abilities. One study of more than 3,600 leaders across a variety of roles and industries found that, relative to lower-level leaders, higher-level leaders more signiﬁcantly overvalued their skills (compared with others’ perceptions).10 In fact, this pattern existed for 19 out of the 20 competencies the researchers measured, including emotional self-awareness, accurate selfassessment, empathy, trustworthiness, and leadership performance. Researchers have proposed two primary explanations for this phenomenon.11 First, by virtue of their level, senior leaders simply have fewer people above them who can provide candid feedback. Second, the more power a leader wields, the less comfortable people will be to give them constructive feedback, for fear it will hurt their careers. Business 23 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 23 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness professor James O’Toole has added that, as one’s power grows, one’s willingness to listen shrinks, either because they think they know more than their employees or because seeking feedback will come at a cost.12 But this doesn’t have to be the case. One analysis showed that the most successful leaders, as rated by 360-degree reviews of leadership effectiveness, counteract this tendency by seeking frequent critical feedback (from bosses, peers, employees, their board, and so on).13 They become more self-aware in the process and come to be seen as more effective by others.14 Likewise, in our interviews, we found that people who improved their external self-awareness did so by seeking out feedback from loving critics—that is, people who have their best interests in mind and are willing to tell them the truth. To ensure they don’t overreact or overcorrect based on one person’s opinion, they also gut-check difﬁcult or surprising feedback with others. 24 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 24 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) #3: Introspection doesn’t always improve self-awareness It is also widely assumed that introspection— examining the causes of our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors—improves self-awareness. After all, what better way to know ourselves than by reﬂecting on why we are the way we are? Yet one of the most surprising ﬁndings of our research is that people who introspect are less selfaware and report worse job satisfaction and wellbeing. Other research has shown similar patterns.15 The problem with introspection isn’t that it is categorically ineffective—it’s that most people are doing it incorrectly. To understand this, let’s look at arguably the most common introspective question: “Why?” We ask this when trying to understand our emotions (Why do I like employee A so much more than employee B?), or our behavior (Why did I ﬂy 25 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 25 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness off the handle with that employee?), or our attitudes (Why am I so against this deal?). As it turns out, “why” is a surprisingly ineffective self-awareness question. Research has shown that we simply do not have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and motives we’re searching for.16 And because so much is trapped outside of our conscious awareness, we tend to invent answers that feel true but are often wrong.17 For example, after an uncharacteristic outburst at an employee, a new manager may jump to the conclusion that it happened because she isn’t cut out for management, when the real reason was a bad case of low blood sugar. Consequently, the problem with asking why isn’t just how wrong we are, but how conﬁdent we are that we are right.18 The human mind rarely operates in a rational fashion, and our judgments are seldom free from bias. We tend to pounce on whatever insights we ﬁnd without questioning their validity or value, we ignore contradictory evidence, and we force our thoughts to conform to our initial explanations. 26 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 26 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) Another negative consequence of asking why— especially when trying to explain an undesired outcome—is that it invites unproductive negative thoughts.19 In our research, we’ve found that people who are very introspective are also more likely to get caught in ruminative patterns. For example, if an employee who receives a bad performance review asks Why did I get such a bad rating?, they’re likely to land on an explanation focused on their fears, shortcomings, or insecurities, rather than a rational assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. (For this reason, frequent self-analyzers are more depressed and anxious and experience poorer well-being.20) So if why isn’t the right introspective question, is there a better one? My research team scoured hundreds of pages of interview transcripts with highly self-aware people to see if they approached introspection differently. Indeed, there was a clear pattern: Although the word “why” appeared fewer than 150 times, the word “what” appeared more than 1,000 times. 27 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 27 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness Therefore, to increase productive self-insight and decrease unproductive rumination, we should ask what, not why.21 “What” questions help us stay objective, future-focused, and empowered to act on our new insights. For example, consider Jose, an entertainment industry veteran we interviewed, who hated his job. Where many would have gotten stuck thinking “Why do I feel so terrible?” he asked, “What are the situations that make me feel terrible, and what do they have in common?” He realized that he’d never be happy in that career, and it gave him the courage to pursue a new and far more fulﬁlling one in wealth management. Similarly, Robin, a customer service leader who was new to her job, needed to understand a piece of negative feedback she’d gotten from an employee. Instead of asking “Why did you say this about me?” Robin inquired, “What are the steps I need to take in the future to do a better job?” This helped them move 28 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 28 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) to solutions rather than focusing on the unproductive patterns of the past. A ﬁnal case is Paul, who told us about learning that the business he’d recently purchased was no longer proﬁtable. At ﬁrst, all he could ask himself was “Why wasn’t I able to turn things around?” But he quickly realized that he didn’t have the time or energy to beat himself up—he had to ﬁgure out what to do next. He started asking, “What do I need to do to move forward in a way that minimizes the impact to our customers and employees?” He created a plan and was able to ﬁnd creative ways to do as much good for others as possible while winding down the business. When all that was over, he challenged himself to articulate what he learned from the experience— his answer both helped him avoid similar mistakes in the future and helped others learn from them, too.22 These qualitative ﬁndings have been bolstered by others’ quantitative research. In one study, psychologists J. Gregory Hixon and William Swann gave a 29 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 29 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness group of undergraduates negative feedback on a test of their “sociability, likability, and interestingness.”23 Some were given time to think about why they were the kind of person they were, while others were asked to think about what kind of person they were. When the researchers had them evaluate the accuracy of the feedback, the “why” students spent their energy rationalizing and denying what they’d learned, and the “what” students were more open to this new information and how they might learn from it. Hixon and Swann’s rather bold conclusion was that “thinking about why one is the way one is may be no better than not thinking about one’s self at all.” All of this brings us to conclude: Leaders who focus on building both internal and external selfawareness, 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. And no matter how much progress we make, there’s always 30 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 30 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) more to learn. That’s one of the things that makes the journey to self-awareness so exciting. TASHA EURICH, PhD, is an organizational psychologist, researcher, and New York Times–bestselling author. She is the principal of The Eurich Group, a boutique executive development ﬁrm that helps companies—from startups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders and teams. Her newest book, Insight, delves into the connection between self-awareness and success in the workplace. Notes 1. Paul J. Silvia and Maureen O’Brien, “Self-Awareness and Constructive Functioning: Revisiting ‘the Human Dilemma,’ ” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 23, no. 4 (August 2004): 475–489. 2. D. Scott Ridley, Paul A. Schutz, Robert S. Glanz, and Claire E. Weinstein, “Self-Regulated Learning: The Interactive Inﬂuence of Metacognitive Awareness and Goal-Setting,” Journal of Experimental Education 60, no. 4 (Summer 1992): 293–306; Clive Fletcher and Caroline Bailey, “Assessing Self-Awareness: Some Issues and Methods,” Journal of Managerial Psychology 18, no. 5 (2003): 395–404; Anna Sutton, Helen M. Williams, and Christopher W. Allinson, “A Longitudinal, Mixed Method 31 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 31 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness 3. 4. 5. 6. Evaluation of Self-Awareness Training in the Workplace,” European Journal of Training and Development 39, no. 7 (2015): 610–627. Silvia and O’Brien, “Self-Awareness and Constructive Functioning.” Allan H. Church, “Managerial Self-Awareness in HighPerforming Individuals in Organizations,” Journal of Applied Psychology 82, no. 2 (April 1997): 281–292; Bernard M. Bass and Francis J. Yammarino, “Congruence of Self and Others’ Leadership Ratings of Naval Ofﬁcers for Understanding Successful Performance,” Applied Psychology 40, no. 4 (October 1991): 437–454. Bass and Yammarino, “Congruence of Self and Others’ Leadership Ratings of Naval Ofﬁcers for Understanding Successful Performance”; Kenneth N. Wexley, Ralph A. Alexander, James Greenawalt, and Michael A. Couch, “Attitudinal Congruence and Similarity as Related to Interpersonal Evaluations in Manager-Subordinate Dyads,” Academy of Management Journal 23, no. 2 (June 1980): 320–330; Atuma Okpara and Agwu M. Edwin, “SelfAwareness and Organizational Performance in the Nigerian Banking Sector,” European Journal of Research and Reﬂection in Management Sciences 3, no. 1 (2015): 53–70. Daniel Goleman, blog, November 15, 2012, http://www .danielgoleman.info/on-self-awareness/; Shelley Duval and Robert A. Wicklund, “Effects of Objective SelfAwareness on Attribution of Causality,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 9, no. 1 (January 1973): 17–31. 32 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 32 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) 7. Erich C. Dierdorff and Robert S. Rubin, “Research: We’re Not Very Self-Aware, Especially at Work,” Harvard Business Review, March 12, 2015. 8. Berndt Brehmer, “In One Word: Not from Experience,” Acta Psychologica 45, nos. 1–3 (August 1980): 223–241; Stav Atir, Emily Rosenzweig, and David Dunning, “When Knowledge Knows No Bounds: Self-Perceived Expertise Predicts Claims of Impossible Knowledge,” Psychological Science 26, no. 8 (July 2015); Philip E. Tetlock, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? rev. ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017). 9. Cheri Ostroff, Leanne E. Atwater, and Barbara J. Feinberg, “Understanding Self-Other Agreement: A Look at Rater and Ratee Characteristics, Context, and Outcomes,” Personnel Psychology 57, no. 2 (June 2004): 333–375. 10. Fabio Sala, “Executive Blind Spots: Discrepancies Between Self- and Other-Ratings,” Consulting Psychology Journal: Practices and Research 55, no. 4 (September 2003): 222–229. 11. Ibid. 12. Jennifer Pittman, “Speaking Truth to Power: The Role of the Executive,” Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, February 1, 2007, https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/ business-ethics/resources/speaking-truth-to-power-the -role-of-the-executive/. 13. Joseph Folkman, “Top-Ranked Leaders Know This Secret: Ask for Feedback,” Forbes, January 8, 2015. 33 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 33 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness 14. Susan J. Ashford and Anne S. Tsui, “Self-Regulation for Managerial Effectiveness: The Role of Active Feedback Seeking,” Academy of Management Journal 34, no. 2 (June 1991): 251–280. 15. Anthony M. Grant, John Franklin, and Peter Langford, “The Self-Reﬂection and Insight Scale: A New Measure of Private Self-Consciousness,” Social Behavior and Personality 30, no. 8 (December 2002): 821–836. 16. Richard E. Nisbett and Timothy DeCamp Wilson, “Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes,” Psychological Review 84, no. 3 (May 1977): 231–259. 17. Ibid. 18. Timothy D. Wilson, Dana S. Dunn, Delores Kraft, and Douglas J. Lisle, “Introspection, Attitude Change, and Attitude-Behavior Consistency: The Disruptive Effects of Explaining Why We Feel the Way We Do,” Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 22 (1989): 287–343. 19. Ethan Kross, Ozlem Ayduk, and Walter Mischel, “When Asking ‘Why’ Does Not Hurt. Distinguishing Rumination from Reﬂective Processing of Negative Emotions,” Psychological Science 16, no. 9 (September 2005): 709–715. 20. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Angela McBride, and Judith Larson, “Rumination and Psychological Distress Among Bereaved Partners,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 72, no. 4 (April 1997): 855–862; John B. Nezlek, “Day-to-Day Relationships Between Self-Awareness, Daily Events, and Anxiety,” Journal of Personality 70, 34 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 34 9/7/18 11:01 AM What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It) no. 2 (November 2002): 249–276; Grant et al., “The Self-Reﬂection and Insight Scale.” 21. Tasha Eurich, “Increase Your Self-Awareness with One Simple Fix,” TEDxMileHigh video, 17:17, December 19, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v =tGdsOXZpyWE. 22. Paul Brothe, “Eight Lessons I Learned from Buying a Small Business,” LinkedIn, July 13, 2015. 23. J. Gregory Hixon and William B. Swann Jr., “When Does Introspection Bear Fruit? Self-Reﬂection, Self-Insight, and Interpersonal Choices,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 64, no. 1 (January 1993): 3–43. Reprinted from hbr.org, originally published January 4, 2018 (product #H042DK). 35 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 35 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 36 9/7/18 11:01 AM 3 Successful Leaders Know What Made Them Who They Are By Bernie Swain 37 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 37 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 38 9/7/18 11:01 AM C an you identify the one person, event, or inﬂuence that made you who you are as a leader and a person? Over the past 10 years, I’ve put that question to 100 of the eminent people I represented as chairman of the Washington Speakers Bureau: Madeleine Albright, Tom Brokaw, Colin Powell, Terry Bradshaw, Condoleezza Rice, and many others. I was curious to ﬁnd out what they felt were the turning points in their lives—the deﬁning moments and inﬂuences from which they draw motivation and inspiration. Identifying the foundational moments of our success allows us to maximize our potential, uncover 39 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 39 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness our own passions, and become better leaders. In my case, the deﬁning moment in my life was the realization that I was never going to enjoy working for other people—a recognition that paradoxically came to me right at the moment when I was on the verge of being offered my dream job (which I eventually turned down to become an entrepreneur). The realization helped fuel me even during periods of uncertainty by reinforcing my will to succeed and comforting me that I was on the right trajectory. Everyone has such an event and can usually identify it after some reﬂection. Among my interviewees, turning points fell into three broad categories. People Forty-ﬁve of those interviewees identiﬁed a person as the single most enduring inﬂuence on their lives. For Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. sec- 40 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 40 9/7/18 11:01 AM Successful Leaders Know What Made Them Who They Are retary of state, it was her father, a serious man with far-ranging intellect whose career as a Czechoslovak diplomat was short-circuited twice: by the German occupation in World War II and by the Communist takeover after the war. After the family moved to the United States, he became a professor living in cramped faculty housing—quite a step down from an ambassador’s residence—but worked at his job cheerfully and diligently. She says that being secretary of state was challenging, but she never had any trouble staying focused: “I just had to picture my father in his ﬂooded basement study, working away with his feet up on bricks.” For Tom Brokaw, who had been student body president and a three-sport athlete in high school, but who then dropped out of college twice, it was a strict and caring political science professor. For legendary basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, it was his mother, who had only an eighth-grade education. Her homespun advice to always “get on the right bus . . . ﬁlled 41 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 41 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness with good people” became the moral cornerstone of “Coach K’s” life and career. Events Forty of my one hundred interviewees identiﬁed an event—a failure, an injury, a death, or the like—as the turning point in their lives. What deﬁned former secretary of labor Robert Reich, at ﬁrst, was his height. “I am 4'11" and have always been short,” said Reich. Starting in kindergarten, he was teased and bullied, and he learned to ﬁnd someone bigger who could act as a protector. One of those who watched out for him was an older kid named Michael Schwerner. Years later, in 1964, Mickey Schwerner and two other young civil rights workers were brutally murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan—a crime that shocked the country and horriﬁed Reich, who had just graduated from high school. The event gal- 42 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 42 9/7/18 11:01 AM Successful Leaders Know What Made Them Who They Are vanized Reich, setting him on a lifelong course of public service and commitment to social justice. “Mickey protected me,” said Reich, now a professor at UC Berkeley. “I, in turn, feel a responsibility to protect others.” For Tony Blair, a rebellious troublemaker in school, it was his father’s stroke, cutting short the elder Blair’s promising political career and evoking in Tony the discipline and diligence that would eventually make him prime minister of Great Britain. Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, found the drive and passion to succeed as her unpretentious self when a boorish social superior threw a dictionary in her lap because she had misused a word in conversation. Environments Fifteen of my interviewees considered environments—such as a place, a time, or an enveloping 43 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 43 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness experience—as the most powerful inﬂuence in their lives. For Condoleezza Rice, it was the love of reading and education that was passed down through her family, beginning with her paternal greatgrandmother, Julia Head, who learned to read as a slave on an Alabama cotton plantation. Rice’s grandfather, born in 1892 to Julia and her sharecropper husband, was determined to go to college and went on to become a Presbyterian minister. One day he brought home nine leather-bound, gold-embossed books—the works of Shakespeare, Hugo, and others—which cost $90, a huge sum at the time. “My grandfather believed in having books in the home,” Rice told me, “and, more important, he believed in having his children read them.” Rice’s father earned two master’s degrees, and her aunt Theresa got a PhD in Victorian literature. In 1981, when Rice received her PhD in political science, her father gave her the ﬁve remaining books from her grandfather’s set. They sit now on her mantelpiece. 44 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 44 9/7/18 11:01 AM Successful Leaders Know What Made Them Who They Are For Chris Matthews, it was his stint in the Peace Corps in Swaziland that took him off his path to academia and sent him toward a life of engagement in politics and journalism. Colin Powell’s enduring inﬂuence comes from a neighborhood in the South Bronx called Banana Kelley, where he grew up among caring family members and a multilingual, nurturing community of hardworking people. “I owe whatever success I’ve had to . . . Banana Kelley,” he says. Successful leaders are self-aware. That’s the overriding lesson I’ve learned from working and talking with some the world’s most accomplished people over the past 36 years. For some, like Powell or Albright, identifying and owning the turning points in their lives comes easily. But for many people, it can be difﬁcult. It took three increasingly painful conversations for Terry Bradshaw to fully get at his: As the number-one pick in the NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he paid little heed to his coaches, goofed off 45 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 45 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness in practice, and exhibited a bravado that masked his deep insecurity as a southern country boy in a big northern city. But as the losses piled up on the ﬁeld and the boos rained down from the stands, he could no longer sustain his devil-may-care façade. One night he broke down crying in his apartment, prayed, and heard a gentle voice telling him to get real. “I went to practice the next day,” he said to me, “and I set out cultivating a new attitude.” He went on to become one of only three quarterbacks to have won four Super Bowls. Highly accomplished people have an inner voice and pay attention to it. They understand the deﬁning moments of their lives and thereby better understand their own strengths, biases, and weaknesses as leaders. And that understanding provides them with a deep well of energy and passion that they draw on throughout their lives. We may not all have careers that match the 100 people I interviewed, but we can 46 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 46 9/7/18 11:01 AM Successful Leaders Know What Made Them Who They Are all share their ability to grasp—and harness—the turning points of our lives and careers. BERNIE SWAIN is the founder and chairman of Washington Speakers Bureau and the author of the book What Made Me Who I Am. Follow him on Twitter @swain_bernie. Reprinted from hbr.org, originally published September 5, 2016 (product #H033OD). 47 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 47 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 48 9/7/18 11:01 AM 4 Two Ways to Clarify Your Professional Passions By Robert Steven Kaplan 49 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 49 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 50 9/7/18 11:01 AM H ave you ever noticed that highly effective people almost always say they love what they do? If you ask them about their good career fortune, they’re likely to advise that you have to love what you do in order to perform at a high level of effectiveness. They will talk about the critical importance of having a long-term perspective and real passion in pursuing a career. Numerous studies of highly effective people point to a strong correlation between believing in the mission, enjoying the job, and performing at a high level. So why is it that people are often skeptical of the notion that passion and career should be integrally 51 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 51 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness linked? Why do people often struggle to discern their passions and then connect those passions to a viable career path? When people hear the testimony of a seemingly happy and fulﬁlled person, they often say, “That’s easy for them to say now. They’ve made it. It’s not so easy to follow this advice when you’re sitting where I’m sitting!” What they don’t fully realize is that connecting their passions to their work was a big part of how these people eventually made it. Passion is about excitement. It has more to do with your heart than your head. It’s critical because reaching your full potential requires a combination of your heart and your head. In my experience, your intellectual capability and skills will take you only so far. Regardless of your talent, you will have rough days, months, and years. You may get stuck with a lousy boss. You may get discouraged and feel like giving up. What pulls you through these difﬁcult periods? The answer is your passion: It is the essential rocket 52 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 52 9/7/18 11:01 AM Two Ways to Clarify Your Professional Passions fuel that helps you overcome difﬁculties and work through dark times. Passion emanates from a belief in a cause or the enjoyment you feel from performing certain tasks. It helps you hang in there so that you can improve your skills, overcome adversity, and ﬁnd meaning in your work and in your life. In talking to more experienced people, I often have to get them to mentally set aside their ﬁnancial obligations, their role in the community, and the expectations of friends, family, and loved ones. It can be particularly difﬁcult for midcareer professionals to understand their passions because, in many cases, the breakage cost of changing jobs or careers feels so huge to them that it’s not even worth considering. As a result, they try not to think too deeply about whether they like what they’re doing. The problem for many midcareer people is that they’re experiencing a plateau that is beginning to alarm them and diminish their career prospects. This plateau is often a by-product of lack of passion for the 53 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 53 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness job. It may be that the nature of the job has changed or the world has changed, and the mission and tasks of their career no longer arouse their passions. In other cases, nothing has changed except the people themselves. They simply want more meaning from their lives and professional careers. Of course, these questions are never fully resolved. Why? It’s because there are many variables in play, and we can’t control all of them. The challenge is to be self-aware. That’s difﬁcult, because most of our professional days are chaotic. In fact, life is chaotic, and, sadly, we can’t usually predict the future. It feels as if there’s no time to reﬂect. So how are you supposed to get perspective on these questions? I suggest that you try several exercises. These exercises may help you increase your self-awareness and develop your abilities to better understand your passions. They also encourage you to pay closer attention to and be more aware of the tasks and subjects you truly ﬁnd interesting and enjoyable. 54 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 54 9/7/18 11:01 AM Two Ways to Clarify Your Professional Passions Your best self This exercise involves thinking back to a time when you were at your best. You were great! You did a superb job, and you really enjoyed it. You loved what you were doing while you were doing it, and you received substantial positive reinforcement. Remember the situation. Write down the details. What were you doing? What tasks were you performing? What were the key elements of the environment, the mission, and the nature of the impact you were making? Did you have a boss, or were you selfdirected? Sketch out the complete picture. What did you love about it? What were the factors that made it enjoyable and helped you shine? If you’re like most people, it may take you some time to recall such a situation. It’s not that you haven’t had these experiences; rather, you have gotten out of the habit of thinking about a time when you were at your best and enjoying what you were doing. 55 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 55 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness After sketching out the situation, think about what you can learn from this recollection. What are your insights regarding the nature of your enjoyment, the critical environmental factors, the types of tasks you took pleasure in performing, and so on? What does this recollection tell you about what you might enjoy now? Write down your thoughts. Mental models Another approach to helping you think about your desires and passions is to use mental models. That is, assume xyz, and then tell me what you would do— and why. Here are examples of these models: • If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it? What does that tell you about what you enjoy and what you have a passion for? • If you had enough money to do whatever you wanted, what job or career would you pursue? 56 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 56 9/7/18 11:01 AM Two Ways to Clarify Your Professional Passions • If you knew you were going to be highly successful in your career, what job would you pursue today? • What would you like to tell your children and grandchildren about what you accomplished in your career? How will you explain to them what career you chose? • If you were a third party giving advice to yourself, what would you suggest regarding a career choice? Although these mental models may seem a bit silly or whimsical, I urge you to take the time to try them, consider your answers, and write them down. You’re likely to be surprised by what you learn. Each of them attempts to help you let go of fears, insecurities, and worries about the opinions of others—and focus on what you truly believe and desire. Passion is critical in reaching your potential. Getting in touch with your passions may require you to 57 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 57 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness give your fears and insecurities a rest and focus more on your hopes and dreams. You don’t need to immediately decide what action to take or assess whether your dream is realistic. There is an element of brainstorming in this effort: You don’t want to kill ideas before you’ve considered them. Again, allow yourself to focus on the what before you worry about the how. These exercises are about self-awareness, ﬁrst and foremost. It is uncanny how much more likely you are to recognize opportunities if you’re aware of what you’re looking for. ROBERT STEVEN KAPLAN is president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Previously, he was the senior associate dean for external relations and Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is the author of three books: What You Really Need to Lead, What You’re Really Meant to Do, and What to Ask the Person in the Mirror. Adapted from What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential (product #11370), by Robert Steven Kaplan, Harvard Business Review Press, 2013. 58 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 58 9/7/18 11:01 AM 5 Emotional Agility By Susan David and Christina Congleton 59 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 59 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 60 9/7/18 11:01 AM S ixteen thousand—that’s how many words we speak, on average, each day. So imagine how many unspoken ones course through our minds. Most of them are not facts but evaluations and judgments entwined with emotions—some positive and helpful (I’ve worked hard and I can ace this presentation; This issue is worth speaking up about; The new VP seems approachable), others negative and less so (He’s purposely ignoring me; I’m going to make a fool of myself; I’m a fake). The prevailing wisdom says that difﬁcult thoughts and feelings have no place at the ofﬁce: Executives, and particularly leaders, should be either stoic or 61 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 61 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness cheerful; they must project conﬁdence and damp down any negativity bubbling up inside them. But that goes against basic biology. All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. That’s just our minds doing the job they were designed to do: trying to anticipate and solve problems and avoid potential pitfalls. In our people-strategy consulting practice advising companies around the world, we see leaders stumble not because they have undesirable thoughts and feelings—that’s inevitable—but because they get hooked by them, like ﬁsh caught on a line. This happens in one of two ways. They buy into the thoughts, treating them like facts (It was the same in my last job . . . I’ve been a failure my whole career), and avoid situations that evoke them (I’m not going to take on that new challenge). Or, usually at the behest of their supporters, they challenge the existence of the thoughts and try to rationalize them away (I shouldn’t 62 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 62 9/7/18 11:01 AM Emotional Agility have thoughts like this . . . I know I’m not a total failure), and perhaps force themselves into similar situations, even when those go against their core values and goals (Take on that new assignment—you’ve got to get over this). In either case, they are paying too much attention to their internal chatter and allowing it to sap important cognitive resources that could be put to better use. This is a common problem, often perpetuated by popular self-management strategies. We regularly see executives with recurring emotional challenges at work—anxiety about priorities, jealousy of others’ success, fear of rejection, distress over perceived slights—who have devised techniques to “ﬁx” them: positive afﬁrmations, prioritized to-do lists, immersion in certain tasks. But when we ask how long the challenges have persisted, the answer might be 10 years, 20 years, or since childhood. Clearly, those techniques don’t work—in fact, ample research shows that attempting to minimize or 63 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 63 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness ignore thoughts and emotions serves only to amplify them. In a famous study led by the late Daniel Wegner, a Harvard professor, participants who were told to avoid thinking about white bears had trouble doing so; later, when the ban was lifted, they thought about white bears much more than the control group did. Anyone who has dreamed of chocolate cake and french fries while following a strict diet understands this phenomenon. Effective leaders don’t buy into or try to suppress their inner experiences. Instead they approach them in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way— developing what we call emotional agility. In our complex, fast-changing knowledge economy, this ability to manage one’s thoughts and feelings is essential to business success. Numerous studies, from the University of London professor Frank Bond and others, show that emotional agility can help people alleviate stress, reduce errors, become more innovative, and improve job performance. 64 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 64 9/7/18 11:01 AM Emotional Agility We’ve worked with leaders in various industries to build this critical skill, and here we offer four practices—adapted from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), originally developed by the University of Nevada psychologist Steven C. Hayes— that are designed to help you do the same: Recognize your patterns; label your thoughts and emotions; accept them; and act on your values. Fish on a line Let’s start with two case studies. Cynthia is a senior corporate lawyer with two young children. She used to feel intense guilt about missed opportunities— both at the ofﬁce, where her peers worked 80 hours a week while she worked 50, and at home, where she was often too distracted or tired to fully engage with her husband and children. One nagging voice in her head told her she’d have to be a better employee or 65 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 65 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness risk career failure; another told her to be a better mother or risk neglecting her family. Cynthia wished that at least one of the voices would shut up. But neither would, and in response she failed to put up her hand for exciting new prospects at the ofﬁce and compulsively checked messages on her phone during family dinners. Jeffrey, a rising-star executive at a leading consumer goods company, had a different problem. Intelligent, talented, and ambitious, he was often angry— at bosses who disregarded his views, subordinates who didn’t follow orders, or colleagues who didn’t pull their weight. He had lost his temper several times at work and been warned to get it under control. But when he tried, he felt that he was shutting off a core part of his personality, and he became even angrier and more upset. These smart, successful leaders were hooked by their negative thoughts and emotions. Cynthia was absorbed by guilt; Jeffrey was exploding with anger. 66 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 66 9/7/18 11:01 AM Emotional Agility Cynthia told the voices to go away; Jeffrey bottled his frustration. Both were trying to avoid the discomfort they felt. They were being controlled by their inner experience, attempting to control it, or switching between the two. Getting unhooked Fortunately, both Cynthia and Jeffrey realized that they couldn’t go on—at least not successfully and happily—without more-effective inner strategies. We coached them to adopt the four practices: Recognize your patterns The ﬁrst step in developing emotional agility is to notice when you’ve been hooked by your thoughts and feelings. That’s hard to do, but there are certain telltale signs. One is that your thinking becomes rigid 67 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 67 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness and repetitive. For example, Cynthia began to see that her self-recriminations played like a broken record, repeating the same messages over and over again. Another is that the story your mind is telling seems old, like a rerun of some past experience. Jeffrey noticed that his attitude toward certain colleagues (He’s incompetent; There’s no way I’m letting anyone speak to me like that) was quite familiar. In fact, he had experienced something similar in his previous job—and in the one before that. The source of trouble was not just Jeffrey’s environment but his own patterns of thought and feeling. You have to realize that you’re stuck before you can initiate change. Label your thoughts and emotions When you’re hooked, the attention you give your thoughts and feelings crowds your mind; there’s no room to examine them. One strategy that may help you consider your situation more objectively is 68 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 68 9/7/18 11:01 AM Emotional Agility the simple act of labeling. Just as you call a spade a spade, call a thought a thought and an emotion an emotion. I’m not doing enough at work or at home becomes I’m having the thought that I’m not doing enough at work or at home. Similarly, My coworker is wrong—he makes me so angry becomes I’m having the thought that my coworker is wrong, and I’m feeling anger. Labeling allows you to see your thoughts and feelings for what they are: transient sources of data that may or may not prove helpful. Humans are psychologically able to take this helicopter view of private experiences, and mounting scientiﬁc evidence shows that simple, straightforward mindfulness practice like this not only improves behavior and well-being but also promotes beneﬁcial biological changes in the brain and at the cellular level. As Cynthia started to slow down and label her thoughts, the criticisms that had once pressed in on her like a dense fog became more like clouds passing through a blue sky. 69 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 69 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness Accept them The opposite of control is acceptance: not acting on every thought or resigning yourself to negativity but responding to your ideas and emotions with an open attitude, paying attention to them and letting yourself experience them. Take 10 deep breaths, and notice what’s happening in the moment. This can bring relief, but it won’t necessarily make you feel good. In fact, you may realize just how upset you really are. The important thing is to show yourself (and others) some compassion and examine the reality of the situation. What’s going on—both internally and externally? When Jeffrey acknowledged and made room for his feelings of frustration and anger rather than rejecting them, quashing them, or taking them out on others, he began to notice their energetic quality. They were a signal that something important was at stake and that he needed to take productive action. Instead of yelling at people, he could make a clear request of a colleague or move swiftly on a press- 70 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 70 9/7/18 11:01 AM Emotional Agility ing issue. The more Jeffrey accepted his anger and brought his curiosity to it, the more it seemed to support rather than undermine his leadership. Act on your values When you unhook yourself from your difﬁcult thoughts and emotions, you expand your choices. You can decide to act in a way that aligns with your values. We encourage leaders to focus on the concept of workability: Is your response going to serve you and your organization in the long term as well as the short term? Will it help you steer others in a direction that furthers your collective purpose? Are you taking a step toward being the leader you most want to be and living the life you most want to live? The mind’s thought stream ﬂows endlessly, and emotions change like the weather, but values can be called on at any time, in any situation. When Cynthia considered her values, she recognized how deeply committed she was to both her 71 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 71 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES? This list is drawn from the Personal Values Card Sort (2001), developed by W. R. Miller, J. C’de Baca, D. B. Matthews, and P. L. Wilbourne, of the University of New Mexico. You can use it to quickly identify the values you hold that might inform a challenging situation at work. When you next make a decision, ask yourself whether it is consistent with these values. Accuracy Achievement Authority Autonomy Caring Challenge Comfort Compassion Contribution Cooperation Courtesy Creativity Dependability Duty Family Forgiveness Friendship Fun Generosity Genuineness Growth Health Helpfulness Honesty Humility Humor Justice Knowledge Leisure Mastery Moderation Nonconformity Openness Order Passion Popularity Power Purpose Rationality Realism Responsibility Risk Safety Self-knowledge Service Simplicity Stability Tolerance Tradition Wealth 72 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 72 9/7/18 11:01 AM Emotional Agility family and her work. She loved being with her children, but she also cared passionately about the pursuit of justice. Unhooked from her distracting and discouraging feelings of guilt, she resolved to be guided by her principles. She recognized how important it was to get home for dinner with her family every evening and to resist work interruptions during that time. But she also undertook to make a number of important business trips, some of which coincided with school events that she would have preferred to attend. Conﬁdent that her values—not solely her emotions—were guiding her, Cynthia ﬁnally found peace and fulﬁllment. It’s impossible to block out difﬁcult thoughts and emotions. Effective leaders are mindful of their inner experiences but not caught in them. They know how to free up their internal resources and commit to actions that align with their values. Developing 73 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 73 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness emotional agility is no quick ﬁx. Even those who, like Cynthia and Jeffrey, regularly practice the steps we’ve outlined here will often ﬁnd themselves hooked. But over time, leaders who become increasingly adept at it are the ones most likely to thrive. SUSAN DAVID is a founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching, is on faculty at Harvard Medical School, and is recognized as one of the world’s leading management thinkers. She is author of the number-one Wall Street Journal bestseller Emotional Agility (Avery) based on the concept named by HBR as a Management Idea of the Year. A speaker and adviser in wide demand, David has worked with the senior leadership of hundreds of major organizations, including the United Nations, Ernst & Young, and the World Economic Forum. You can take her free Emotional Agility assessment at susandavid.com/learn. CHRISTINA CONGLETON is a leadership and change consultant at Axon Coaching, and researches stress and the brain at the University of Denver. She holds a master’s in human development and psychology from Harvard University. Reprinted from Harvard Business Review, November 2013 (product #R1311L). 74 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 74 9/7/18 11:01 AM 6 Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reﬂection (Even if You Hate Doing It) By Jennifer Porter 75 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 75 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 76 9/7/18 11:01 AM W hen people ﬁnd out I’m an executive coach, they often ask who my toughest clients are. Inexperienced leaders? Se- nior leaders who think they know everything? Leaders who bully and belittle others? Leaders who shirk responsibility? The answer is none of the above. The hardest leaders to coach are those who won’t reﬂect—particularly leaders who won’t reﬂect on themselves. At its simplest, reﬂection is about careful thought. But the kind of reﬂection that is really valuable to leaders is more nuanced than that. The most useful 77 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 77 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness reﬂection involves the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. Reﬂection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amid the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mind-sets and actions. For leaders, this “meaning making” is crucial to their ongoing growth and development. Research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats in call centers demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reﬂecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reﬂect.1 A study of U.K. commuters found a similar result when those who were prompted to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned-out than people who didn’t.2 78 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 78 9/7/18 11:01 AM Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reﬂection So, if reﬂection is so helpful, why don’t many leaders do it? Leaders often: • Don’t understand the process. Many leaders don’t know how to reﬂect. One executive I work with, Ken, shared recently that he had yet again not met his commitment to spend an hour on Sunday mornings reﬂecting. To help him get over this barrier, I suggested he take the next 30 minutes of our two-hour session and just quietly reﬂect and then we’d debrief it. After ﬁve minutes of silence, he said, “I guess I don’t really know what you want me to do. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been doing it.” • Don’t like the process. Reﬂection requires leaders to do a number of things they typically don’t like to do: slow down, adopt a mind-set of not knowing and curiosity, tolerate messiness and inefﬁciency, and take personal responsibility. The process can lead to valuable insights and 79 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 79 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness even breakthroughs—and it can also lead to feelings of discomfort, vulnerability, defensiveness, and irritation. • Don’t like the results. When a leader takes time to reﬂect, she typically sees ways she was effective as well as things she could have done better. Most leaders quickly dismiss the noted strengths and dislike the noted weaknesses. Some become so defensive in the process that they don’t learn anything, so the results are not helpful. • Have a bias toward action. Like soccer goalies, many leaders have a bias toward action. A study of professional soccer goalies defending penalty kicks found that goalies who stay in the center of the goal, instead of lunging left or right, have a 33% chance of stopping the goal, and yet these goalies only stay in the center 6% of the time. The goalies just feel better when they “do 80 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 80 9/7/18 11:01 AM Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reﬂection something.” The same is true of many leaders. Reﬂection can feel like staying in the center of the goal and missing the action. • Can’t see a good ROI. From early roles, leaders are taught to invest where they can generate a positive ROI—results that indicate the contribution of time, talent, or money paid off. Sometimes it’s hard to see an immediate ROI on reﬂection, particularly when compared with other uses of a leader’s time. If you have found yourself making these same excuses, you can become more reﬂective by practicing a few simple steps. • Identify some important questions. But don’t answer them yet. Here are some possibilities: – What are you avoiding? – How are you helping your colleagues achieve their goals? 81 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 81 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness – How are you not helping or even hindering their progress? – How might you be contributing to your least enjoyable relationship at work? – How could you have been more effective in a recent meeting? • Select a reﬂection process that matches your preferences. Many people reﬂect by writing in a journal. If that sounds terrible but talking with a colleague sounds better consider that. As long as you’re reﬂecting and not just chatting about the latest sporting event or complaining about a colleague, your approach is up to you. You can sit, walk, bike, or stand, alone or with a partner, writing, talking, or thinking. • Schedule time. Most leaders are driven by their calendars. So, schedule your reﬂection time and 82 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 82 9/7/18 11:01 AM Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reﬂection then commit to keep it. And if you ﬁnd yourself trying to skip it or avoid it, reﬂect on that! • Start small. If an hour of reﬂection seems like too much, try 10 minutes. Teresa Amabile and her colleagues found that the most signiﬁcant driver of positive emotions and motivation at work was making progress on the tasks at hand. Set yourself up to make progress, even if it feels small.3 • Do it. Go back to your list of questions and explore them. Be still. Think. Consider multiple perspectives. Look at the opposite of what you initially believe. Brainstorm. You don’t have to like or agree with all of your thoughts—just think and examine your thinking. • Ask for help. For most leaders, a lack of desire, time, experience, or skill can get in the way of reﬂection. Consider working with a colleague, 83 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 83 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness therapist, or coach to help you make the time, listen carefully, be a thought partner, and hold you accountable. Despite the challenges to reﬂection, the impact is clear. As Peter Drucker said: “Follow effective action with quiet reﬂection. From the quiet reﬂection will come even more effective action.” JENNIFER PORTER is the managing partner of The Boda Group, a leadership and team development ﬁrm. She is a graduate of Bates College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, an experienced operations executive, and an executive and team coach. Notes 1. Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary P. Pisano, and Bradley R. Staats, “Making Experience Count: The Role of Reﬂection in Individual Learning,” working paper 14-093, Harvard Business School, 2014. 2. Jon M. Jachimowicz et al., “Commuting as Role Transitions: How Trait Self-Control and Work-Related Prospec- 84 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 84 9/7/18 11:01 AM Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reﬂection tion Offset Negative Effects of Lengthy Commutes,” working paper 16-077, Harvard Business School, 2016. 3. Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer, “The Power of Small Wins,” Harvard Business Review, May 2011. Reprinted from hbr.org, originally published March 21, 2017 (product #H03JNJ). 85 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 85 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 86 9/7/18 11:01 AM 7 You, By the Numbers By H. James Wilson 87 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 87 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 88 9/7/18 11:01 AM A few years ago entrepreneur and scientist Stephen Wolfram wrote a blog post titled “The Personal Analytics of My Life.”1 In it, he mapped data about his email usage, time spent in meetings, even the number of keystrokes he’s logged—for 22 years. The resulting charts and graphs are mesmerizing, and somewhat instructive. Wolfram has documented that he’s a man of routine who likes to work alone late at night. He knows that although his scheduled telephone calls usually start on time, his in-person meetings are less predictable—and that he’s hitting the backspace key 7% of the time he’s on the keyboard. 89 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 89 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness This “effort at self-awareness,” as Wolfram described it, makes him a trailblazer in the growing discipline of auto-analytics—the practice of voluntarily collecting and analyzing data about oneself in order to improve. Athletes have long used visual and advanced statistical analysis to ratchet up their performance. Now auto-analytics is ﬂourishing in the workplace, too. With wearables, mobile devices and apps, sophisticated data visualization, and AI, it has become fairly easy to monitor our ofﬁce activity—and any factors that might affect it—and to use that information to make better choices about where to focus our time and energy. This heralds an important shift in how we think about tracking work performance and even career planning. Employees have long been measured, but managers have traditionally chosen the tools and the metrics—and, more important, decided how to interpret the ﬁndings. With auto-analytics, individuals take control. They can run autonomous experiments to pinpoint which tasks and techniques make them 90 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 90 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers most productive and satisﬁed—and then implement changes accordingly. Wolfram’s insight was that his “shockingly regular” routine liberated him to be “energetic—and spontaneous—about intellectual and other things.” But he did not use the data to discover ways to improve his performance, and in that way his blog post is as much cautionary as it is pioneering, for it highlights the pitfalls of embracing auto-analytics without ﬁrst adopting a plan. Lacking a clear goal at the outset, Wolfram took two decades to synthesize his vast collection of data. Even then he stopped at observation rather than progressing to analysis and intervention. What improvements could he have made on the basis of his ﬁndings? Would it have been more useful to map, say, project time lines against stress levels— or, given that he runs his company remotely, moods against time spent with others? If these kinds of questions are not tackled up front, auto-analytics runs the risk of becoming a promising concept that’s poorly applied and then dismissed 91 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 91 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness as just another tech fad. To do it right, you need to understand the tools and develop an approach. The aim is not merely to increase self-awareness but to become better at your job and more satisﬁed with your life. The tools There are two broad types of auto-analytics tools. The ﬁrst are trackers, which reveal patterns and help you set goals. They allow you to document routines and physical responses such as sleep hours, heart rate, and food consumed or calories burned—information you can use to learn, for example, how your caffeine and sugar consumption affects your work output or which ofﬁce interactions spike your blood pressure. Trackers are best used longitudinally (over days, weeks, or longer) and iteratively, to test interventions and their results until the right balance is struck. You 92 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 92 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers gather a baseline of personal data and then run cycles of data collection and analysis. That analysis readies you for the second type of tools, nudgers, which guide you toward your goals by asking questions or prompting action on the basis of the data they’ve received. Nudgers are often apps or online tools that might tell you to work out, to stop drinking coffee, or to slow down during a presentation. They usually require some up-front investment to make the algorithms “know” how and when to ping you. The analysis What exactly can you measure? Using successful cases and research, I have developed a framework that includes three arenas where auto-analytics can be useful: the physical self, the thinking self, and the emotional self (body, mind, and spirit). 93 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 93 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness The physical self Your physical condition affects your work. We’ve known this roughly since the Industrial Revolution, when Frederick Taylor’s famous time and motion studies showed that an iron-plant worker’s movements, such as shoveling pig iron into a cart, could be measured and improved. Likewise, the sleep patterns, stress levels, and exercise regimens of knowledge workers have been shown to affect productivity, creativity, and overall job performance. Today these workers can choose from a variety of mobile apps, wearable sensors, or desktop tools that autonomously collect rich data about their bodies’ movements and physiological systems. Business consultant Sacha Chua wanted to understand the relationship between her sleep schedule and achieving her professional priorities, so she has tested several tools for this purpose. Using a sleep-tracking app, she monitored her bedtimes, wake-up times, 94 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 94 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers SELF-MEASUREMENT AT A GLANCE Tools in the ﬁeld of auto-analytics often employ behavior-based algorithms to make recommendations to users. The analyzed data may be collected by wearable devices with sensors and visualized on mobile devices or computers. Most tools focus on one of three personal domains. The physical self Tools that measure and monitor physical movements and body functions help you make better decisions about professional eﬀectiveness and well-being. Sleep trackers may gather data on sleep quantity and quality, enabling you to understand why you feel alert (or lethargic) on certain workdays and how to optimize the relationship between rest and performance. Movement or ﬁtness trackers may count the (Continued) 95 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 95 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness SELF-MEASUREMENT AT A GLANCE number of steps you’ve taken or nudge you to get up when you’ve been sitting still for too long. The thinking self Tools focused on the thinking self gather data related to the routines, habits, and productivity of knowledge work. Browser-based attention trackers visualize patterns that reﬂect where and how much your attention ﬂows across categories while on the web during a workday. amount of sleep per night, and sleep quality over several weeks. (See the sidebar “Self-Measurement at a Glance.”) With this baseline and a hypothesis that she was sleeping later than she should, she then tried waking up earlier—at 5:40 rather than 8:30 a.m. Chua discovered, to her surprise, that she was getting more and better sleep with the new wake-up 96 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 96 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers The emotional self Tools that measure emotions increase users’ awareness of how professional decisions, situations, and actions correlate with mood. A mood-tracking app may prompt you with occasional simple questions to track your state of mind over time. Then it can make recommendations, derived from clinical practice insights and research data, about how you can improve job performance and satisfaction. time, which improved her engagement and performance at work. It seemed to be forcing her to eschew unimportant late-night activities, such as browsing the web, so that she could go to bed earlier. Instead of squandering much of her morning in low-quality sleep while hitting the snooze button over and over, she could spend the time writing and programming. 97 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 97 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness This exercise was nominally about sleep, but the data provided a more rigorous way for Chua to explore, prioritize, and act on what really mattered to her personally and professionally. The thinking self In the 1960s Peter Drucker legitimized quantifying the thinking self into units of knowledge work. Although knowledge work has remained notoriously tough to measure rigorously or directly while it is being performed, its output is still tracked with approximations like billable hours, reports ﬁled, or lines of code written. Such measures can inform managers and ﬁnancial systems, but they do little to guide individuals who want to learn how to get better at their jobs. Auto-analytics can help by gathering data as you perform cognitive tasks, such as client research on your smartphone or statistical analysis in Excel. Google engineer Bob Evans used both trackers and nudgers to investigate the relationship between his 98 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 98 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers attention and his productivity. He explains, “As engineers, we load up our heads with all these variables, the intellectual pieces of the systems we are building. If we get distracted, we lose that thread in our heads.” With a tool that interacts with online calendars, Evans analyzed how frequently he was shifting between solitary thinking and collegial interaction across his days and weeks—and then mapped that against his work output. The data showed him that he needs about four straight hours to get anything ambitious done, so he’s now focusing on his most challenging tasks when he has that kind of time, not during days when lots of meetings disrupt his mental ﬂow. Evans also uses a mobile app that randomly pings him three times a day, asking, “Have you been working in the past two hours?” If he hasn’t, he’s prodded to refocus. If he clicks yes, the app asks more questions: “What was your primary work activity?” and “What was your secondary work activity?” This data-gathering approach, developed by psychologist 99 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 99 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is called the experience sampling method, or ESM. Just over a week into Evans’s three-week experiment, the ESM data began to show that he was responding to work emails too frequently, which distracted him from more important tasks. So he began to answer email just twice a day to see whether that increased his productivity. It did. In the third week, every time the app pinged him, he was in the midst of his core programming work. (Notably, one of Evans’s colleagues set the app to check in with him eight times a day. He grew so frustrated that he abandoned the experiment.) The emotional self Daniel Goleman famously asserted that nearly 90% of the difference between outstanding and average leaders is attributable to emotional factors, not intellectual acumen. Indeed, many professionals are intrigued by the role emotions play in their careers, 100 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 100 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers and they aspire to become more aware of their own emotional states and their ability to manage them. Yet assessment tools and coaches focusing on emotional intelligence are expensive, intrusive, and often reserved for select members of the C-suite. Auto-analytics tools don’t measure emotional intelligence per se, but they provide an easier way to gain insight into emotions and use data to enhance our predictions of what will make us happy in our daily work and careers. Many apps and tools track moods by prompting the user: “How do you feel right now?” If you use one on a GPS-enabled mobile phone, you can discover correlations between your emotions and your location. Are you happiest working at home, at Starbucks, or at the ofﬁce? Are you less happy at certain client sites or when you travel? Or, using a tool that crunches textual data—such as the types of words in your email communications or journal entries—you can quantify feelings about a particular assignment or job opportunity. 101 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 101 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness These tools are no substitute for personal reﬂection, but they can facilitate the process. A case in point is that of Marie Dupuch, a branding strategist who had long envied people who “could recognize their mood and know exactly what put them in it.” Realizing she wasn’t that intuitive, she instead tried a quantitative approach to understanding her emotions. With college graduation looming, and the pressure to “reﬂect and ﬁgure things out” before entering the job market, she began tracking her moods. During her three-month ﬁnal semester, she used a beta version of a tracker app that asked her to rate her mood on a ﬁve-point scale three times a day. At ﬁrst, the ﬁndings were predictable: Talking to friends and family on Skype enhanced her mood; riding on public transportation depressed it. But one data point stood out: Thursdays were her happiest days, which surprised her given that they were also her busiest. On Thursdays Dupuch drove from her college campus to the city for a course on advertising that featured 102 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 102 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers guest lecturers and required interaction with advertising executives and other creative types. She hypothesized that it was the exposure to the advertising world in an urban location that made her hardest day her happiest. So she decided to test her theory: She scheduled six informational interviews over ﬁve days with ad agencies in Manhattan and measured her mood the whole time. She reﬂects, “Through this test I was able to see with real data that advertising was a good bet, that this was the kind of career that would make me happy.” Today she is working happily and productively in the advertising industry in New York. Of course, effectively tracking your emotions presupposes that you can take an analytical—even a clinical—view of your mood when data are being gathered. That’s quite different from tracking hours of sleep or number of emails sent. Dupuch is among many I’ve spoken to who say that the process is unnatural at ﬁrst but that it gets easier with practice and eventually improves your ability to sense and react to how you’re feeling. 103 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 103 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness The future It’s still early days for auto-analytics. Nevertheless, important new streams of research, based in cognitive and behavioral science, are currently being conducted at universities and by private enterprises. A project called Quantiﬁed Self is hosting opportunities for individuals to try out auto-analytics tools and experimental methods. In addition, new ﬁeld-based insights on data visualization and algorithm innovation from the ﬁeld of business analytics have direct application for auto-analytics practitioners and toolmakers. Two other trends are also emerging. First, the tools will become more sophisticated. Some will be smarter, with machine-learning algorithms that make the nudging function more nuanced so that, for example, the technology knows better when and how to ping you. They may also allow for more accuracy, gather- 104 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 104 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers ing more types of data related to diet and physical activity at a faster rate. Some tools will become less visible—woven into clothing to capture physical data, for instance, or embedded in professional tools such as spreadsheets and word processing apps. Second, a more holistic approach to auto-analytics will develop. Applications will consolidate many kinds of measurements in a single dashboard and allow us to analyze ourselves across ever more complex dimensions. Some tools already combine tracking and nudging—and can add a social dimension. They ask you to create a goal, such as increasing your number of sales calls or conversations with direct reports each week, and then use digital displays to help you analyze your daily progress toward achieving it. To increase your motivation, they use nudges or even levy small ﬁnancial penalties when you veer off track. And they can be used socially so that people—even strangers—working toward the same goal can share data and encourage one another, as people do in a weight-loss club. 105 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 105 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness Tech entrepreneur Nick Winter has used this methodology to great success. When he felt he was on a productivity plateau and sensed that his new business was in jeopardy, he began gathering data on his work activities and output. Over a 10-month period, Winter tested four distinct approaches to being more productive, from spreadsheet tracking to nudger tools. He settled on an auto-analytics technique called “percentile feedback graphing” to help him see trends clearly. He has now assembled an online group of like-minded colleagues who compare—and compete on—their metrics. Another example of data consolidation is Personal Analytics Companion (PACO), an open-source mobile app designed by Google’s Bob Evans, whose story appeared earlier. “Instead of having all these vertical apps, from mood trackers to meeting trackers, this is one place where you . . . can mash all your data together and compare,” Evans says. “You can see trends, distributions, relationships.” 106 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 106 9/7/18 11:01 AM You, By the Numbers Imagine the auto-analytics app that helps a manager reschedule his innovation session because it knows he didn’t sleep well, his extra-long commute created stress, and he has a dull budget meeting right before the session. Or consider the knowledge worker who arms herself before a performance review with personal benchmark data that will support or counter her manager’s assessment. That’s where auto-analytics is heading. When analysis reveals higher performance on noncore tasks, auto-analytics can even become the impetus for a full-on career switch. Think of how much less anxiety that life-altering decision would cause if you had data to support it. Applied the right way, auto-analytics can provide hard evidence in situations where traditionally we’ve relied on intuition and anecdotal feedback. Quantifying yourself is a revelatory experience—and perhaps the best thing you can do to improve your career and your life. 107 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 107 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness H. JAMES WILSON is a managing director of Information Technology and Business Research at Accenture Research. Follow him on Twitter @hjameswilson. Wilson is coauthor with Paul Daugherty of Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI (Harvard Business Review Press, 2018). Note 1. Stephen Wolfram, “The Personal Analytics of My Life” (blog post), March 8, 2012, http://blog.stephenwolfram .com/2012/03/the-personal-analytics-of-my-life/. Adapted from Harvard Business Review, September 2012 (reprint #R1209K). 108 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 108 9/7/18 11:01 AM 8 How Are You Perceived at Work? Here’s an Exercise to Find Out By Kristi Hedges 109 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 109 9/7/18 11:01 AM H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 110 9/7/18 11:01 AM I t’s not easy to understand how other people perceive us. We are often uncertain, confused, or even completely unaware of what we project. And this lack of self-awareness can be career-limiting. Consider a former client of mine who was angling for the C-suite but had received feedback that his colleagues considered him negative and difﬁcult. He was stunned; he thought of himself as analytical and thorough and assumed everyone understood that he pushed back in order to get to the best answer. He was also unaware that he had a habit of grimacing while processing information, which looked to others like annoyance. 111 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 111 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness My client was suffering from what psychologists call the transparency illusion—the belief that we’re all open books and that what we intend is what people see. But there can be a wide gap between intent and impact. People are often unaware of their facial expressions, especially when deep in thought. (As a colleague of mine says, “Thinking faces aren’t pretty.”) And particular emotions can be confusing to interpret. Frustration and slight discomfort, for example, can easily be mistaken for each another. Knowing that most of us don’t clearly project what we intend doesn’t stop us from conﬁdently forming impressions based on the impact we feel. And in organizations, these impressions are often crowdsourced (a kind of ofﬂine Yelp for people) and a common narrative can emerge. These narratives get shared as advice (Just started reporting to Ana? Here’s the best way to work with her) or spread as malicious gossip (Claude’s jockeying for power again). Tapping into this collective impression can give us valuable information on what’s working for us and 112 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 112 9/7/18 11:01 AM How Are You Perceived at Work? Here’s an Exercise to Find Out where we may need to adjust our style. Even if we get frequent feedback at work, it’s typically about our functional performance. You may be told that your sales skills need sharpening, but not that people see you as self-interested. Which one has more of an impact on your career? In The Power of Presence, I outline a straightforward presence audit to determine how others perceive you. It only takes a couple well-worded questions to a few key people to get the information you need. (If you’ve ever conducted a 360-degree evaluation, you’ve seen how quickly impressions start repeating.) While this exercise won’t take a lot of time, it may be psychically intensive. So keep in mind that there’s never a comfortable time to do this and assume now is the exact right time. Use this process as a guide: • Select ﬁve people. Choose colleagues who see you repeatedly in relevant work situations: 113 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 113 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness bosses, executives, direct reports, peers, or even former colleagues. Inﬂuential coworkers who have their ears to the ground make great sources. If they know you in more than one aspect of your work or life, even better. While it’s important that you have trusted people in your group, make sure to choose people who will tell it to you straight. • Ask for a face-to-face meeting. Be clear that you’ll keep whatever the person tells you conﬁdential, which will encourage honesty, and that you’ll be collecting feedback from several people to ﬁnd themes, which lessens the burden for any one individual. Make the request in person if you can. People are more likely to consent to participate if they can see you. A phone call can work too if you can’t be physically in front of someone. If you have to make the request via email, offer to answer any questions ahead of the meeting. 114 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 114 9/7/18 11:01 AM How Are You Perceived at Work? Here’s an Exercise to Find Out • Ask two questions. In the meeting, ask these two simple questions designed to tap into the collective wisdom: 1. What’s the general perception of me? 2. What could I do differently that would have the greatest impact on my success? Depending on the person, you’ll hear responses ranging from eye-opening and helpful to vague and confusing. If the person is uncomfortable, they may rely on job- or project-speciﬁc feedback. In that case, clarify: I appreciate that feedback. May I go up a level now and ask about the general perception of me as a leader/colleague/person? • Manage your reaction. Resist the temptation to explain yourself, defend your actions, or reveal disappointment. Your interviewees will be looking to see what effect their feedback 115 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 115 9/7/18 11:01 AM Self-Awareness has on you in real time. The quality of your feedback will only be as good as your ability to remain comfortable while receiving it. Ask for details or examples if you need them. And end with a sincere thank-you. When you’ve ﬁnished the interviews, look for themes and repetitive points (it’s OK to shed outliers as long as you’re sure they don’t contain valuable information). If the perceptions of you are in line with what you intend, great. If not, it’s time to change your behaviors and begin to shift perception. Many times clients have come back to me after completing this exercise and said, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? I can easily change that!” This is precisely what happened with my client who was perceived as negative and difﬁcult. After realizing that he was being misinterpreted, he made a commitment to state his intentions up front to foster transparency. He adjusted his style in meetings to ask open-ended questions to make clear he was 116 H7470_EI-Self-Awareness.indd 116 9/7/18 11:01 AM How Are You Perceived at Work? Here’s an Exercise to Find Out interested in understanding the other person’s position. And he worked hard to control his tendency to grimace and keep a neutral facial expression that connoted openness. Gradually he was able to change perceptions, and allow people to know the empathetic and caring person that he knew himself to be. The transparency illusion is a common trap for managers at all levels. Fortunately, it’s possible to close the gap between how people perceive you and how you want to be perceived. Gather reliable information and then make a commitment to change. KRISTI HEDGES is a senior leadership coach who specializes in executive communications and the author of The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day and The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Inﬂuence and Engage Others. She’s the president of The Hedges Company and a faculty member in Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership. Reprinted from hbr.org, originally published