The Importance of Self Awareness

The Importance of Self Awareness

Your personal style is the set of behaviours you demonstrate when you are in your comfort zone. The environment in which you perform at your best.

We can adapt our behaviours based on the environment we are in. The more we move outside of our comfort zone, the less tolerant we become. This is where we start to feel stress.

If we can understand the environment that causes us stress, can we manage it better and become more resilient? Reflecting back on my story, I believe the answer is Yes.

I have always loved numbers.

As a child growing up, I would invite my friends over on the school holidays and we would play tennis tournaments or cricket matches. Our cricket matches became known as “the averages” as I kept scores of all of our matches and updated my statistics book daily. My favourite part was at the end of the day when I would re-calculate everyone’s averages and announce them as the daylight began to quickly fade.

What was your average today?

Was it better than yesterday?

I love facts. I love being able to explain things.

I don’t like it when I can’t solve a problem. Especially where numbers are involved.

So I started a career in Finance. I loved the customer interaction. In particular, I loved listening to the customer’s story.

What bought them here?

What do they do?

What do they need help with?

Why they didn’t like numbers?

As my career progressed, I started spending more time working in compliance, audit and reporting. The focus was on the numbers. And meeting targets. Yearly. Quarterly. Monthly. And eventually, Weekly. It felt very limiting. I wanted to spend more time focusing on relationships. This was my natural style.

My roles required me to sit down with Executives and formulate forecasts. In a lot of cases it was a balancing act. Reality versus targets.

My focus on relationships meant that I would propose targets built on trust. I would not submit a forecast unless the Executive was comfortable with it. I saw my role as a guide. To make sure that the Executive understood the story behind the numbers.

What were the sensitivities?

What was the best case?

What was the worst case?

My focus was for the Executive to take ownership of the numbers. This happened when they believed the story behind the numbers. It wasn’t my role to own the numbers. It was my role to “stress test”. To sense check.

But, when I presented these numbers to the Board, they were rejected. It was hard for me to accept. A lot of the time the targets were revised. The trust I had built with the Executive felt betrayed. This was the way I felt. And it caused me stress. I felt like I had failed.

The next day, I went back to the Executive with the revised targets. The process was questioned. Our work had been dismissed. This really stressed me out. I could not continue to work this way.

But this became the norm of Corporate life. And so started my journey of corporate burn-out.

But I wasn’t that self-aware at the time. To understand what was causing the stress I felt. It wasn’t the numbers. It was the mis-trust that I was experiencing in my relationships at work.

If I had understood this earlier, I would’ve been more open to myself. And others.

What I have learnt is the importance of self-awareness. The importance of my clients having self-awareness. They will come to me with a question. About the numbers. But the underlying problem usually lies beneath the numbers.

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