How to Improve Your Self-Awareness

by | August 20, 2018

Team Sky

The Tour de France is without a doubt one of the toughest sports competitions in the world. Since 2006 Team Sky have dominated it, Winning 6 of the last 7 tours.

The 21-day race places an incredible physical and mental demand on each rider. However, in order to win, you must have a strong team behind the rider. Team sky understands this better than most, which is why their practices are not only used in sport but are implemented among boardrooms across the world.

One area that they pay a lot of attention too is developing self-awareness. Team’s performance director, Sir Dave Brailsford places a large emphasis on giving honest feedback and appraisal to his team and himself.

So why is self-awareness important when looking to improve and develop yourself?

Ignorance might be bliss for the ignorant, but for the rest of us, it’s a fucking pain in the ass.

Ricky Gervais

Why is self-awareness important?

In short, the better you understand yourself, the better equipped you are to make decisions that are more likely to lead to desired outcomes and self-fulfilment.

As a byproduct improved self-awareness helps cultivate meaningful relationships in your life and helps you follow a path that is truly suited to you.


Developing self-awareness

This is the hard part.

Developing true self-awareness can often be uncomfortable. It requires complete honesty with yourself. Afterall…

Behavioural change only comes from within.

This may sound a bit airy fairy but when you break it down, it makes sense. All actions are a direct result of an internal decision. You do not always choose the situation you find yourself in but you always have the ability to choose how you respond to the situation.  

So how can you begin developing your self-awareness…


Look through the window

One of the tools used by Sir Dave Brailsford and Team Sky to help them improve their team understanding and overall efficiency is called – the Johari Window.

This psychological tool was created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 and is still commonly used today. Essentially the model is about what you know about yourself and what others know about you.

Potential benefits of using the Johari Window include:

  1. Improved self-awareness.
  2. Improved communications.
  3. Improved interpersonal relationships.
  4. Improved group dynamics and team building.


So how does it work?

The model is split into 4 quadrants:


The Johari Window


Open (Top left)

Things we know about ourselves and others know about us (e.g. how tall we are, what colour of eyes we have).

Hidden (Bottom left)

Things we know about ourselves that others do not know (e.g. fears, dreams).

Blind (Top right)

Things others know about us that we do not know (e.g. you have chocolate on your cheek or at a deeper level this may be certain gifts that you may not see yourself such as making others feel comfortable around you).

Unknown (Bottom right)

Things neither we nor others know about us. This is also known as the ‘undiscovered’ window pane and refers to things which you and others can discover through positive relationships.


How to get started

1. Collect information.

The main goal is to collect information that you believe about your self and what others see in you.  

This can be done in a ‘free text’ format or by sending out a simple questionnaire that asks you to pick 5-6 words that you feel best describes you. Then you can send this to your friends/family to complete.

Johari Window – Take the test online:

2. Create your window

Put all the traits into the window (open, blind or hidden) e.g. if your trait matches a trait identified by friends/family, this would go in the ‘open’ box.

3. Review

Look at your window.

Here are a few examples of questions you may wish to ask yourself when reviewing the information:

  • Which window has the most traits?
  • What traits were agreeable?
  • Is there anything you didn’t expect?
  • How could you develop yourself so that the traits become more agreeable?


Changing your window

The lines dividing these four panes are like window shades, they can move as an interaction progresses.

We build trust by opening our personal shades to others so that we become an open window.

The larger the ‘open area’ then the greater the resulting clarity and self-awareness you will have.

Opening the ‘blind’ window can create trust and improve your ‘open’ window allowing for better self-awareness and development.

For example, others may help you identify strengths in yourself that you never knew you had. However, you have to be ‘open’ in order to receive this feedback. Accepting this observation allows you to improve your self-awareness.

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