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How to Cultivate Self-Awareness

A recent Harvard Business Review article tells us the best way to cultivate self-awareness. We know that self-awareness is critical to leadership and self-development, yet new studies demonstrate the power and limitations of being self-aware.

The author explains, "introspection doesn't always improve self-awareness." When people focus on "why" ("Why did I do this?"), they might dwell too much on their fears and just reinforce the way they are. Instead, asking "what" questions ("What should I do next time to prevent this from happening again?"), encourages learning because it's more objective and focused on the future.

The author also identifies four self-awareness archetypes around our internal and our external self-awareness. Internal self-awareness is understanding our own values, passions, and aspirations, while external self-awareness is understanding how others view these aspects of ourselves.



  • Which archetype best describes you? What are the advantages and drawbacks of this orientation?
  • How does understanding your archetype help with team communications and teamwork?
  • Do you find yourself asking more "why" or "what" questions when you spend time reflecting? How would you describe the potential danger of focusing on "why"?