September 30


Third Quarter. Your Move.

By Sara Canaday

September 30, 2010

career success, leadership, leadership behaviors, leadership development, leadership skills, management, professional development

Ask any athlete.  The score at half-time is irrelevant.  The one that counts is at the end of the game.

What does that have to do with self-awareness, emotional intelligence and the interpersonal skills I promote as an executive coach?  Here’s the answer.  Scientists and executives seem to agree that self-awareness is a critical component for success in virtually any environment — the workplace, our communities and even our families.  (If you need proof, has more than 5,000 books on this topic.)  While many experts offer guidance about how to become self-aware, I firmly believe that reaching self-awareness is simply the first part of the journey.  Essentially, it’s half-time.  At that point, the key to real success is what you do with that hard-earned self-awareness…how you apply it.

Plenty of tools are available for those who recognize the value and want to invest the time to become more self-aware, to understand how their words and actions are perceived by others.   Detailed self-assessments.  360 interviews.  Feedback from executive coaches.  The bigger challenge – perhaps infinitely more critical – is then pushing beyond the traditional thinking on emotional intelligence and moving into the realm of applied self-awareness. Can you strategically use the knowledge you’ve gained in your self-awareness exploration to become more effective at leadership, team-building and problem-solving? Maybe it’s a matter of consciously changing your communication patterns and truly listening with a singular focus.  Or perhaps you need to actively promote your achievements in an appropriate way to get the recognition you deserve.  The point is…having the knowledge is vastly different than using the knowledge to create meaningful changes.

The people who are most successful at reaching their goals in business (and in life) instinctively know the importance of transforming valuable insight into strategic action that generates targeted results. If you want to win the game, you can’t quit at half-time.

Do you tend to think of self-awareness as a passive state or an active sport?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

  • Thank you for such an insightful post Sara.
    Self awareness in this simple guys opinion is one of the most, if not the most, important tool we have to implement effective change in our behavior. We can’t change others but we can certainly change ourselves and perhaps influence others by example. I believe it all starts with a desire to acknowledge a very powerful adage that I try to use as a personal guide. “When We Think We’re Good – We’re Not”. You point out very well that having the knowledge is much different than applying it. Perhaps it is the thinking we know and thinking we are good that prevents us from applying lessons and observations from others on how to better ourselves and our results?

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