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, Amazon.com 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.