Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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Exploring career mentoring and coaching

1 What is self-awareness?

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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.

Download this video clip.Video player: mentoring_and_coaching_week2_1.mp4
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I think self-awareness is absolutely at the heart of coaching. And one of the most important things that coaching and mentoring can do for you is to help increase your self-awareness. Self-awareness is a very difficult thing, and as we go through our lives we gradually develop our self-awareness, and perhaps we change who we are so there are further challenges associated with understanding ourselves there. In terms of career coaching particularly, I think what self-awareness does is it helps mitigate risks. So whenever you make a career decision of any sort, whether it's to change career, to start a new opportunity, or to go for promotion, there's a risk involved. We don't really know how it's going to work out until we try it. And a good understanding of ourselves and what we want, what we value, what we're good at, what we're going to enjoy, can help make sure that we make a choice that is most likely to provide us with the outcomes that we want and the kinds of jobs that satisfy us.
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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)]


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