Leadership toolbox: how to build self-awareness

A cartoon of a person walking a dog. The person's thought-bubble is full of music, other people, cars, work etc, while the dog's thought bubble shows only the scene they are walking in.
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Self-awareness is a key life and leadership skill. At its most basic level, self-awareness is about developing your knowledge and understanding of yourself, and being able to access that knowledge and understanding in real-time to help you better navigate your life.

Its benefits include:

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How to flex your strengths and deal with weaknesses

A picture of a hand, palm upward, outstretched towards the horizon, with an ocean in the background..
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Weakness. Most of us cringe inwardly even just hearing that word. We’ve been taught that weaknesses are something to be ashamed of, and there are plenty of people who seem to live by the belief that the truly great amongst us don’t have weaknesses. That’s about as far from the truth as we can get!

I have previously written about focusing on your strengths, not your weaknesses. I still wholeheartedly believe that playing to our strengths is a fantastic strategy. But I am also convinced that responding effectively to our weaknesses is something anyone can master.

In this post, I going to expand my thoughts on how you can get clarity about your key strengths and weaknesses, and then decide whether to flip, delegate or ignore your weaknesses.

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Why we need to ditch certainty and embrace uncertainty

A crumpled piece of paper on a dark background. There is a large question mark on the paper.
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Certainty is highly prized; so much of what we do and say revolves around creating certainty for ourselves, or projecting an aura of certainty for others to see. We avoid and even despise uncertainty. Part of this is because our brains are wired to prefer certainty.

The problem is not uncertainty itself, but our unfamiliarity around how to navigate uncertainty, and our lack of tools to help us do so. It’s important to understand that the only way we can change and grow as individuals, teams and societies is through embracing and working with uncertainty.

I’m convinced that we need to embrace uncertainty wholeheartedly in our lives and organisations. Once we understand why we react the way we do to uncertainty, we can learn how to use it to drive growth, improvement and development, and even have fun doing so!

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If you want to be good at something, first you’ve got to be bad

Diagram of football (soccer) field strategy
Reading Time: 5 minutes

There’s a simple truth in life that I have encountered too many times to count… If I want to be any good at anything, first of all, I have to be willing to be bad at it. Learning and skill development are processes, not instant-gratification. So, instead of giving up on something if I don’t execute it perfectly the first time I try, I’ve learned that persistance counts for far more than “natural” talent. And one of the brilliant things about we humans is that we can learn how to stick with being bad at something long enough to become good at it.

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Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses

A young boy dressed in a cape and sunglasses, with arm outstretched to the sky.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re like me, you have sat in countless training sessions or performance reviews being told to identify your weaknesses and develop strategies to compensate for or overcome them. Did anyone ever tell you to focus on your strengths? It seems to be a totally foreign concept in most workplaces. But focusing on strengths will lift not only performance, but also engagement and motivation – and it feels a whole lot better than moping over things we aren’t good at!

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