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Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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1 What is self-awareness?

A hand holds an image of a lightbulb with an illuminated drawing of a brain inside it.
Figure 1 Self-awareness is important

Sutton (2016) broadly defines self-awareness as ‘the extent to which people are consciously aware of their internal states and their interactions or relationships with others’.

One of the primary effects of successful mentoring or coaching is to help you to enhance your self-awareness.

Dr Julia Yates explains in the following video.

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As Julia infers in the video clip, self-awareness can be difficult to understand and develop. Tasha Eurich’s research (2017) backs this up. She found that ‘while 95% of people think they are self-aware, the real figure is closer to 10–15%’. She says, ‘Not only are our assessments often flawed, we are usually terrible judges of our own performance and abilities – from leadership skills to achievements at school and work.’ She goes on to describe two specific types of insight:

  • Internal self-awareness – an inward understanding of our passions and aspirations, strengths and weaknesses etc.
  • External self-awareness – knowing how others see you and understanding yourself from the outside in.

Retired NBA basketball player, psychologist and author, John Amaechi, has this to say about internal self-awareness, or to use his term – ‘introspection’.

Bitesize coaching with John Amaechi: introspection as the first step to success [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]