Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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4 What might get in my way?

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Figure 4 Obstacles to self-awareness

When you are working towards becoming more self-aware, there are potential obstacles to your progress.

Farmer (2017) writes about 12 obstacles to building self-awareness. They include:

Fear: Fear of unpleasant emotions; of opening a Pandora’s Box of memories; of trying something new.

Discomfort: People are uncomfortable changing what they’ve always done, even if it’s not working; people feel uncomfortable focusing on themselves.

Accountability: It’s easier to live unconsciously; it’s easier to live through other people; it’s easier to give responsibility for your happiness or success to someone or something else.

Negativity: Self-awareness takes a lot of work; it’s difficult to break habits; self-awareness is intangible; people don’t see the value in getting to know themselves.

(adapted from Farmer, 2017)

If you are interested in mentoring and coaching, it is unlikely that you will hold negative views about self-awareness – you’re already exploring methods of enhancing your own. So, do you have any other blocks to becoming more self-aware?

Watch this short video from Tasha Eurich in which she explains ‘Why we’re not as self-aware as we think’.

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Why we’re not as self-aware as we think
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Activity 5 What’s in my way?

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Eurich refers to blind spots and self-absorption in her research, and Farmer’s list suggests lack of self-confidence, fear or a negative attitude. Finding the time to actually sit down and think might be another problem! Use the boxes below to answer these questions.

What are your obstacles to becoming more self-aware?

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What can you do about them?

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You may have identified a range of obstacles and they may be difficult to overcome without support. Think about who could help you, or how you could set aside some time each day. For example, finding 10 minutes to reflect might be manageable - perhaps on your journey to work or instead of browsing your social media. But don’t be disheartened. By taking the time to self-reflect and do this week’s activities, you are already doing better than the 95% of people who think they are self-aware, but aren’t.

Self-awareness and self-reflection are skills like any other. The more you use them, the better you will get.

As Dr Julia Yates explained at the beginning of this week, self-awareness is at the heart of coaching and mentoring, and your own self-awareness will grow when you work with a mentor or coach. Over the next few weeks of this course, you’ll have a chance to consider in more detail the support that a mentor or coach can offer and make some decisions about how they could help you.

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