What’s really going on?
If you have experienced a time when you were not at your best, didn’t respond in a way that reflects your better self, or just found it hard to get energized, you may have asked yourself, “What’s really going on?”. You instinctively know that this behavior is not who you really are. Sometimes it can be a challenge to figure out.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that self-knowledge is one of our basic human needs, something we truly need in order to be a healthy functioning adult. Self-knowledge by definition is the understanding of oneself or one’s own motives or character.
When we are in our self-authoring, higher functioning mindset we are less apt to put the responsibility on others, choosing to take full ownership of our actions, reactions, and presence. For example we may say “Oh that John really pushes my buttons.” Then our self-authoring mind gently nudges us, and we realize that we have allowed something someone else said to upset us. By allowing our own sense of well-being to be upset we have intentionally or unintentionally made a choice.
Brushing our upset off as not really important, or planning to be prepared to not react when future situations like this arise can be a way of managing our response. But it is not optimal. It glosses over what is really going in inside us.
In my own personal experience, until I am willing to take that deeper introspective look, situations that result in my upset or unrest will continue. It is as if I am being invited again and again to look at what is happening, really see what is underlying and tell the truth about both the situation and myself. Then transformation happens. This is when my self-authoring mindset is truly engaged and I am able to prepare for a better experience in the future.
This is not always easy to do. Thankfully we have all kinds of support to help us. Coaching is all about supporting people to look at what otherwise might have been overlooked. To discover one’s greatness, dismantling patterns of reacting that no longer serve us, and see what we were unable to see for ourselves. This is what my personal experience of being coached is about, and what I offer to those I am coaching.
It is so much easier to work with someone when unpacking and dismantling our habits and patterns developed over a lifetime. A good coach sees the greatness in you. A great coach supports you in seeing and owning your own greatness.
As we continue growing our capacity to be self-authoring, we cannot help but gain self-knowledge, understanding our own motives and character. By taking the deep dive to understand one aspect of our self, not only discover what is really going on, we discover it is applicable to many other areas in our life.
The very thing that, in our example with John, led us to choose unrest and upset also shows up in our other relationships at home, work, and socially. It is a holographic representation of who we choose to be, and as we change one aspect, the door opens for us to be aware of all the other areas in which the same fundamental transformation can take place if we choose to. We are often amazed that life can get easier.
Is it surprising to see that it is not just the big stuff in life we need to attend to, but the little things as well? The annoyances and frustrations in life hide our true selves, hinders our greatness and our ability to be a positive influence in the lives of others.
The manager/coach will have a greater influence when helping their team understand that underneath any unwanted action lies an opportunity to uncover personal gold, empowering the individual to move forward in a meaningful and powerful way, owning their own greatness. It is much more than stopping a behavior or powering through reluctance to start something new. It is about meeting that personal basic human need for self-knowledge, understanding underlying motives and growing individual character.
One of our upcoming Signal Coaching training is about Direct Communication and Self-Knowledge. Self-knowledge helps us break our confirmation biases, and enable us to be direct in our communication. It also helps us as coaches, managers and leaders use direct communication to empower others to better self-knowledge.
As we learn to have our basic human need for self-knowledge met, to understand our motives and character, we are freed up to focus on other areas of our life that are also important.
Nancy Dennis has been coaching since 2010, working with managers, small business owners and solo-professionals. She is the co-founder of Signal Coaching, a continuing education program for ICF Coaches, attended by coaches, managers and leaders. Contact Nancy if you want to know more about developing your own self-knowledge or supporting others in developing theirs.