Self-Awareness Influences Job Engagement.
Have you ever wondered why you are on the path you are on and what’s next for you? Have you ever felt “stuck” or in a stand still position and wasn’t clear on why? In those moments, you probably blamed everyone around you for not being where you “should” be. And in those same moments, have you ever thought of “self-awareness”? I know I have and that was a very magical moment for me.
Married with four kids and a full-time job. Early on in my career, my job was simply a “job”. I went to work and did what was needed. Returning home each night leaving work behind. As my kids grew older and became more independent although I felt happy I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my work. I just wasn’t engaged in it.
I’m a chemist by training and hadn’t explored other options outside of the lab. Yet, I felt I could do more on a different level in a non-lab related area. When I approached my manager about it, he too wasn’t clear on the best way to help and offered me different projects to diversify my experience. Those were “ok”, but still I wasn’t as engaged as I would like to. I was finding myself more attracted to the business aspect of the work and communicating with clients and helping with identifying different business opportunities. This sounded like 180 degrees switch in my career (going from science to business) which didn’t make any sense to me. How can I do business and who would hire me for such a role without having any experience or education that would qualify me for it?
I decided to search the web on why I was feeling this was and if it was “normal”, or even heard of! I then, stumbled upon the StrengthsFinder 2.0 personality test which allows you to take a timed test to determine your strengths.
Initially, I thought this was interesting as it focuses on your strengths (your good qualities), but I didn’t believe that a test would actually be the answer to my dilemma. “No way, this is crazy”, is what I thought to myself. I kept contemplating this for some time until I registered for a conference that had a session on the StrengthsFinder and the test was mandatory. To my surprise, the results left me with my mouth wide open as it nailed it right on!
What! he who is obedient during hours of the night, prostrating himself and standing, takes care of the hereafter and hopes for the mercy of his Lord! Say: Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful. (Quran 39:9)
It suddenly occurred to me that my frustration with my current role in the lab has been due to the fact that I have been working against my natural strengths for a long time. My natural strengths are predominantly in building relationships, executing and strategizing; being in the lab keeps me secluded from people and minimizes my strategic thinking. It is this self-awareness that made me decide to go back to school for my MBA. This self-awareness moment, a moment of truth, where I had to learn more about who I am and what I do best and how I can utilize that to help me advance my career. It really was an eye opener for me. It’s funny that my annual performance reviews at work have always stated that I have strong soft skills (how I work and communicate with others). However, I believe because of my self-awareness I now am more mindful in my actions and interactions with others. It was this self-awareness that enabled me to confidently let my manager know that “yes, while I haven’t done this before, I’m confident I can get it done”.
According to a 2012 study by Gallup Management Consulting, only about 13% of employees worldwide are engaged. Where do you see yourself? I know many of you reading this are among the 87% who are disengaged, so what are you going to do about it?
Blaming your management or those around you is not the answer. For blaming, will not put you on the path of success. From my own personal experience, it takes self-awareness. This will be the first step in your success roadmap. Self-awareness will arm you with confidence that you can leverage to your advantage and be able to design your career roadmap. Self-awareness is your ticket to be mindful in your actions and interactions with others.