SELF AWARENESS, SELF MANAGEMENT & SELF DEVELOPMENT
Objectives of the Program:
1. To understand ourselves in entirety – our physical, mental, emotional, social, professional & spiritual selves.
2. Having understood our own selves, to manage ourselves in such a manner as to achieve our life’s goals – both long term and short term.
3. To develop ourselves in areas that need improvement in a continuous manner with help from the environment around us.
How important is Self-awareness?
The MUNDAKA UPANISHAD opens with a question put by the householder Shaunaka to the sage Angras – “What is that, by knowing which, all can be known?”
Can we aspire to an all-embracing knowledge of the Universe in which the limitations of our individual viewpoints are dissolved and our necessarily partial awareness transcended? Do we have to study all the VEDAS, all the UPNISHADS and the various SHASTRAS? Isn’t there a short cut? Isn’t there an instant kind of learning?
In response, the sage Angiras said that there were two levels of knowledge. “The enlightened sages hold that knowledge is of two kinds – a lower one and a higher one. The study of the VEDAS, UPNISHADS and SHASTRAS can be called lower knowledge. The higher one is that which leads to the realization of the SELF i.e. Self-awareness, Self-Management and Self-Development.
SELF AWARENESS, SELF MANAGEMENT & SELF DEVELOPMENT
Before we go into self-awareness, let us find out what is meant by self? Is it one’s name? Is it how one looks? Is it one’s social skills? Is it the value by which one lives? Or is it a combination of all these, that go to make up self? Self can also be described as one’s Personality, the totality of all of one’s personal characteristics.
What makes people different from each other? One is the culture that we are born in.. Maharashtra-Rural or Delhi-Cosmopolitan or Orissa-Tribal and so on. We are affected by how people around us talk, behave and eat and so on. We tend to copy them.
Next, we are affected by the caste, the family we are born in.. Is it high Caste or low Caste? Is it a big family or a small family? Are you the youngest, eldest or somewhere in the middle? All these determine how we turn out to be, as we grow up.
Then, we are affected by the atmosphere in which we are brought up.. neighbours, friends, teachers, relatives, etc. and the type and amount of exposure to various places and events. All these affect us.
We have so far talked about external factors; but there are personal factors as well. That is why even a pair of twins who have many commonalities have distinct personalities. One proof of this is the Iranian girls Ladeh & Lalan, joined at the head. They wanted to go their separate ways, even if the operation that did it had the risk of death. The fingerprints of each were different.
Each person – each self is different. Each is unique. That is what we mean when we say that the personality of Atal Bihari Bajpayee is differentfrom that of Lal Krishna Adavni and so on.
Personality may be seen as a “Sum total” of an individual which includes his physical appearance, health, intelligence, prominent emotional range, profession, social relations and spiritual make-up.
SELF AWARENESS IS ESSENTIAL BEFORE SELF-MANAGEMENT AND SELF-DEVELOPMENT.
Who am I? What am I? What motivates me? What do I like? What do I dislike? How do I feel? What is the difference between thinking & feeling? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What are my energizares? What are my de-energizares? What angers me? Why does it anger me? What makes me sad? Why does it make me happy? What excites me? Why does it excite me? What are my values? What is my attitude to various aspects of life?
It is after finding correct answers to the above questions, that we become aware of our own selves.
Advantages of Self Awareness
1. One can reduce one’s losses by not crossing one’s own limitations.
2. Next, One can reduce one’s limitations with help from others as well as by one’s own efforts.
3. One can increase one’s gains by using more of one’s own strengths.
4. Next, One can increase one’s own strengths.
5. One can also turn one’s weaknesses into strengths.
6. One can develop better relations with others.
7. One can become healthy mentally, emotionally and lead a happy life.
8. One can manage one’s own self better a step necessary before managing others.
9. One can, in short, develop oneself without undergoing undue pains.
This is a technique for becoming more aware of one’s own self. In the above figure are shown four windows. This is called The Johri Window.
Window no. I is Transparent:
It is an area of one-self which is open to one’s own self as well as to others. Here one knows one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Others also know the same.
Window no. II:
This is a window of hidden self, which is an area that is open to one’s own self but which is closed to others. Here one knows certain things about one’s self which others do not know.
Window no. III:
This is a window which is closed to one’s own self but it is open to others. This is an area where one is not conscious of certain things in one’s own self which others can see as if by X-ray.
If we want to develop ourselves, we should try to increase Window no. I. We should also try to decrease the area of Window no. IV. While we can increase the area of Window no. I by one’s own efforts or with help from friends and relatives; for decreasing the area of Window no. IV help of a competent psycho – analyst is required.
There are two methods of increasing Self-awareness. One is Self-Disclosure after introspection. As one makes things about oneself public, one picks up more and more courage. A space is also created for more introspection i.e. Atma-Manthan, leading to more self-awareness. Window No. I is widened. One becomes more transparent and feels light as if some burden is removed.
The other method is to get feedback from others about one’s own self. Feedback is a way of helping another person to consider changing his behaviour. It is communication to a person which gives him information about some aspects of his behaviour and its efforts on you – some things that the person himself/herself has perhaps not noticed. As in a guided missile system, feedback helps an individual to know whether his behaviour is having the effect that he wants. It tells him whether he is “On target”, as he strives to achieve his goals.
Criteria for useful feedback:
The giving and receiving of feedback is a skill that can be acquired. When feedback is attempted at the wrong time in the wrong way, the results will be, at best, useless and may be disastrous. Therefore, developing feedback skills can be important. Here are some criteria for useful feedback:
• It is descriptive, rather than evaluative. It is helpful to focus on what the individual did rather than to translate his behaviour into a statement about what he is – “You have interrupted three people in the last half hour” is probably not something that a person really wants to hear, but it is likely to be more helpful than – “You are a bad mannered oaf”.
• It focuses on the feelings generated in the person who has experienced the behaviour and who is offering feedback – “When you interrupt me, I feel frustrated” gives the individual clear information about the effect of his behaviour, while at the same time leaving him free to decide what he wants to do about that effect.
• It is specific rather than general. For example, it is probably useful to learn that you “Talk too much” than to have someone describe you as “dominating”.
• It is directed towards behaviour which the receiver can do something about Frustration is increased when a person is reminded of some short-coming over which he has no control.
• It is solicited rather than imposed. Feedback is most useful when the receiver feels that he needs and wants it; when he himself has formulated the kind of question which those observing him can answer.
• It is well-timed. In general, feedback is most useful at the earliest opportunity after the given behaviour, depending of course on the receiver’s readiness to hear it, support available from others, and so on.
• It is checked to ensure clear communication. One way of doing this is to have the receiver try to rephrase the feedback in question to see whether the receiver’s version corresponds with what the sender meant.
• When feedback is given in a training group, both giver and receiver have opportunity to check its accuracy with others in the group. Thus, the receiver will know whether this is one person’s opinion or an impression shared by others.
• Feedback should not be given primarily to “dump” or “unload” on another. If you feel you have to say this to the other person, then ask yourself who it is you are trying to “help”.
• Feedback does not ask “why”. It stays within the bounds of behaviour and one’s reactions to that behaviour. To theorize about or ask why a person does a certain things is to plumb the depths of motivation and perhaps, of the unconscious. Avoiding the “whys” will help one to avoid the error of amateur psychologising.
Why do we resist it?
Given the premise that properly given feedback can be a fine way to learn about one self, what are the reasons that we resist it? For one thing, it is hard to admit our difficulties to ourselves. It is even harder to admit them to someone else. We are not sure that the other person can be trusted or that his observations are valid. We may be afraid of learning what others think of us. We often expect to hear only negative opinions about ourselves, tending to overlook our positive qualities. Or we only like to hear praises and do not want to hear unpleasant truths about ourselves.
We may have struggled so hard to make ourselves independent that the thought of depending on another individual seems to violate something within us. Or we may, during all our lives have looked for someone on whom to depend, and we try to repeat this pattern in our relationship with that helping person only.
We may be looking for sympathy and support rather than help in seeing our difficulty more clearly. When the helper tries to point out some of the ways we are contributing to the problem, which might suggest that we as well as others will have to change, we may stop listening. Solving a problem may mean uncovering some of the sides of ourselves which we have avoided or wished to avoid thinking about.
We may feel our problem is so unique, no one could ever understand it and certainly not an outsider.
On the other side of the interchange, it is not always easy to give feedback to others. Most of us like to give advice. Doing so suggests that we are competent and important. We get caught up in a telling role easily enough, without testing whether our advice is appropriate to the total issue or to the abilities, the fears or the powers of the person we are trying to help.
If the person whom we are trying to help becomes defensive, we may try to argue or pressure him. Defensiveness or denial on the part of the receiver is a clear indication that we are going about trying to be helpful in a wrong way. Our timing is off or we may be simply mistaken about his behaviour, but in any case, it is best to desist until we can re-evaluate the situation. If we respond to the receiver’s resistance with more pressure, resistance will only increase.
To be fruitful, the helping situation needs these characteristics:
1. Mutual trust
2. Perceiving the helping situation as a joint exploration
3. Careful listening with the helper’s listening more than the individual receiving help
4. Behaviour from the helper which will make it easier for the receiver of help to walk
Feedback takes into account the genuine needs of the receiver. If feedback is given in a training laboratory under the conditions described here, it can become one of primary means of learning about self.
Once you are aware of your own self, the next step before Self-Development is that of Self-Management or Self-Regulation. If you want to manage others, should you not first be managing your own self? Can one, who cannot manage even his own self, manage others? There is one other reason for Self-Management - for those who are able to manage their own selves, the boss has very little to instruct. The boss remains happy with a subordinate who manages himself and as we shall see later, even the self managing subordinate remains happy himself. It is a win-win situation. Both boss and subordinate are happy. So is the organization.
Now let us see what is involved in Self-Management. Basically the following:-
6. Self-Motivation, consisting of –
i. Achievement drive
Let us see each of these, one by one.
Keeping self control means keeping in check disruptive tendencies which take one away from one’s own goals and regulating one’s Self-Talk (what one says to one’s own self in one’s own mind) so as to check impulsive emotions as the outset itself. Self-Talk is said to be the engine of the subsequent train of one’s behaviour. One can also use relaxation techniques, Yoga,etc. for checking one’s impulses.
People having the competence of Self Control are able to
a. Manage their impulsive feelings and distressing emotions well
b. Stay composed, positive and unflappable even in trying moments
c. Think clearly and stay focused under pressure
This competence can be achieved by establishing and maintaining personal standards of Honesty and Integrity. This makes others comfortable and confident of what they can expect of you.
People having the competence of Trustworthiness do the following –
a. Act ethically and are above reproach
b. Build trust through their reliability & authenticity.
c. Admit their own mistakes and confront others for their unethical actions.
d. Take tough and principled stands even if they are unpopular
This competence means responsibility for personal performance (rather than blaming others).
People with this competence do the following –
a. Meet commitments made by them and keep their promises.
b. Hold their own selves accountable for meeting their own objectives.
c. Remain organized and careful in their work.
For this quality it is necessary to have –
a. Flexibility of mind, body & emotions
b. Ability to bend oneself physically, mentally and emotionally in the direction desired by one’s own self depending on circumstances.
People with this competence are able to –
a. Handle smoothly multiple demands, shifting priorities and rapid changes.
b. Adapt their responses and tactics to fit fluid circumstances
c. Remain flexible in how they see events
d. Respond appropriately to changes without losing sleep
Innovation involves being comfortable with novel ideas, approaches and new information. It requires one to remove the fear of the strange.
a. Seek out fresh ideas from a wide variety of sources
b. Entertain original solutions to problems
c. Generate new ideas
d. Take fresh perspectives and risks in their thinking
The best motivation is Self Motivation. Nobody can make us do a job better than the one we want to do and the one which we enjoy doing
For Self Motivation to occur, the following are essential –
A. Achievement drive
Desire and action involved in striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence and to feel motivated intrinsically by the achievement itself constitutes self-motivation.
People having the competence of Achievement drive are –
i. Results-oriented with high drive to meet their own objectives and standards
ii. Those who set challenging goals for themselves and take calculated risks
iii. Pursuing information to reduce uncertainty and find ways to do better than before
iv. Continuously learning how to improve their performance
Commitment is aligning one self and one’s personal goals with the goals of the group, organization or society at large, that one belongs to and sticking to them till fruition.
People with this competence –
i. Readily make sacrifices to meet a larger organizational goal
ii. Find a sense of purpose in the larger mission
iii. Use the group’s core values in making decisions and clarifying values
iv. Actually seek out opportunities to fulfil the group’s mission
Initiative is the readiness to act on opportunities including the ability to sense opportunities.
People with the competence of Initiative are –
I. Ready to seize opportunities
II. Pursuing goals beyond what is required or expected of them
III. Cutting through Red Tape and bending the rules when necessary to get the job done
IV. Mobilizing others through unusual, enterprising efforts
V. Proactive rather than reactive
Optimism is persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and hurdles.
People possessing this competence –
i. Persist in seeking goals despite obstacles & setbacks
ii. Operate from hope of success rather than fear of failure
iii. See setback as due to manageable circumstances rather than as a personal flaw
When we are able to do complete Self Management, we are in a position to develop ourselves with whatever help is available from our environment. We become what is called emotionally intelligent. Then sky is the limit. There is no reason why we cannot transform ourselves into an Ambani or a Mahatma Gandhi, a Swami Vivekanand or a Ramana Maharshi.
Dimensions of development:
What does one mean by development of an individual? There are various interpretations. Some of these are very limited in scope. They are restricted to the level of material achievements, such as income and wealth, or social climbing in terms of status & visibility.
A more comprehensive conception of human development includes the following four elements:
i. Knowledge: of concepts, theories, economy, market, etc.
ii. Skills: the ability to use knowledge as appropriate, exhibiting different mix of skills at different levels of responsibility, consisting of technical, behavioural and conceptual skills.
iii. Attitudes: towards work, quality, service, relationships, groups, authority, discipline, influence, etc. Behind attitudes are underlying values and beliefs about one’s role in the family, institution and society.
iv. Habits: work habits of order, punctuality, follow-up, time management, etc. and personal life habits for physical health, joy & tranquillity.
It will be appreciated that there is hardly any upper limit on the scope for one’s development. In fact, each level of progression is development with respect to the earlier level, but is only the base from which to strive for the next higher level.
Of the above four components, perhaps knowledge is the easiest to acquire. It can be acquired somewhat mechanically. Skills need greater efforts to develop. So much knowledge remains unexploited for lack of skills. Discarding destructive attitudes and developing constructive ones is more stressful to the individual in the short run, but potentially of great benefit in the long run. The human paradox and the tragedy is that bad habits are easy to form and good habits are easy to break. It has been observed that part of the learning from formal training courses remains unutilized because habits of work and social behaviour of the individual are slow to change.
Blocks to development:
Every individual has potential. Human resources development systems and experiences are capable of developing and utilizing this potential. But they cannot guarantee development. They are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for human development. It is necessary for the individual himself to remove the following blocks in the path of his own development.
Our behaviour is more influenced by self-image, rather than by self-concept. The image is how we think of ourselves, The concept is how others perceive us. The latter is often more realistic. The gap between the two – image and concept, if substantial, will tend to act as a block to the individual’s development.
The difference is called “fantasy”. It can either be an over-valuation of himself, by the individual, or an under-estimate. It is more often the former. If so, it can lead to complacency, inaction, over-confidence and possibly superiority complex. In case of under rating oneself, it manifests itself in withdrawal, dependence, lack of initiative and possibly inferiority complex.
Either way the fantasy element in self-image acts as filter on experience. It prevents the individuals from perceiving his experiences correctly. He tends to selectively perceive that part which agrees with his fantasy. So, unsatisfactory results may be seen as high performance by the individual. Conversely, another individual may be discouraged or even depressed by good results.
Learning is a process of absorbing feedback from the environment. The distortion is due to the fact that most individuals have a preference for positive feedback. Praise is highly agreeable. One tends to exaggerate it further. Negative feedback is irksome. One tends to ignore it completely or at least to minimize it. In saner moments, the individual may appreciate that constructive criticism is helpful. But even when it is couched in mild language, it evolves a defensive response. One tends to underplay it. The temptation is to find explanations and scapegoats.
Let us suppose an individual has crossed some of these hurdles and realized that learning is the path to development. A further block is a narrow view of development, primarily as the accumulation of more knowledge, with inadequate emphasis on skills, attitudes and habits.
Steps in Self Development:
Are these insurmountable? Is there hope for the individual? Yes, of course, there is. We can draw the following guidelines, by observing highly developed individuals in different walks of life.
The first is to be constantly aware of the possibility of a fantasy element in one’s self perception. It is a commitment to be interested in how others perceive one self, and to evolve a better understanding and estimate of oneself not as a one-time exercise but for all time.
The second step is to be open to feedback from one’s environment of events, objects and people. We have seen the difficulties in “receiving” feedback. The individual needs to remind himself constantly to modestly underplay praise, but take even mild criticism seriously & examine it for the underlying message and learning. He can go further and “perceive” feedback on his own. He can do this by increasing his sensitivity, picking up all verbal and non-verbal reactions to his words and deeds. Such perceptual ability liberates him to that extent from dependence on others, who feel adequately concerned enough to observe him and take risks in giving him negative feedback.
The third step is to identify the realistic elements in the fantasy and convert them into future visions, fully realizing that they are yet to be achieved and cannot be assumed away.
It is then possible to identify the gap between the self-vision and today’s state of development of the self-concept. A self development action plan can be worked out in order to bridge the gap.
In such a growth plan, one needs to reduce the lopsided emphasis on knowledge alone. The necessary stress can be put on the other components of learning, namely attitudes, skills and habits. Specific behavioural strategies can be pursued for each element of learning.
i. Curiosity - for knowledge accumulation
ii. Practice - for sharpening skills
iii. Introspection - for modifying unhelpful attitudes
iv. Self-Discipline – for weeding out unwanted habits & acquiring or strengthening desired habits
Without these steps, an individual will not develop much even with the best of appraisal, counselling, training and development systems. Through these steps, the individual can develop on his own effort, even if his enterprise is not progressive enough to have a HRD system. By these steps, the individual can interact optimally with a HRD system, to the mutual benefit of himself and the institution. With such growing individuals, the institution can become a great instrument for social good.