I use ”I statements” when discussing self-awareness because that word keeps me humble; otherwise, I could get preachy. Self-awareness is at the center of my success. It requires conscious knowledge of my own character, motives, thoughts, feelings and actions. I want to do what is congruent with my character and not allow others to decide for me explicitly or tactily.

Peer pressure is so strong. Here is an example of when I acted out of character just to fit in. The class reunion coordinator asked me to prepare a speech to honor deceased classmates. Just before the speech I reminisced with former athletes. During high school we felt that being studious wasn’t cool, so I dumbed down the speech. I got a few laughs from my clique, but disappointed the coordinator, dishonored deceased classmates, but most importantly, I was not true to myself. Facing myself in that moment or during any tough situation is not easy. It is so much easier to talk about someone else’s missteps. However, facing my fears and doubts has made me stronger. It is in keeping with the Joseph Campbell  Star Wars Quote: the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”.

The treasure I seek is continuous self-improvement through self-knowledge. I never want to fall victim to the kind of peer pressure which causes me to do less than my best. I have a lot of positive qualities that I want to enhance. This is where the Johari Window (Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham) comes into play. It consists of four quadrants: arena, façade, blind-spot and unknown. The arena is self-awareness. The façade is the image I want to portray to others. My blind-spots are the things others see in me that I don’t. Unknowns are thoughts and feelings buried deep in my subconscious. They are unknown to me and to others but can be reveal if triggered by extremely stressful situations.

My desire is to open my arena as wide as possible which is done by practicing disclosure and feedback. In other words, I need to disclose strengths and challenges to people I trust and then solicit feedback both positive and constructive. Like John Cassis, renowned motivational speaker, my mantra is : “Good better best, never let it rest, until my good becomes my better and my better becomes my best.” And that is what I want for others.