Any path to a happier life and one that allows us to be more effective, more persuasive and more confident ultimately has less to do with what happens outside ourselves and more to do with what happens internally.
This quote from Plato is ultimately about humility and the power of self-awareness. The more aware we are of what lights us up, what motivates us and what scares us, the more empowered we are to act authentically, intuitively and confidently.
There is a difference, however, between being self-aware versus being self-involved is the ego. The ego is about how we think we are in the world. It is a constant measurement with the outside world, and it seeks either to find proof of being larger than or less than everything that is around us. The ego is in effect a barrier to authentic connection and communication. It is the mirror by which we constantly judge ourselves.
Self-awareness that is absent judgment is a way for us to “see” ourselves clearly and begin to accept ourselves. If our goal is to be happier in our work and have more meaningful connections in life, then the key lies in our ability to know and accept ourselves.
There is a lot of research on mindfulness and a few books written on the subject (one here by Tara Bennett-Goleman called Mind Whispering) that look at ways for us to be more aware without getting caught in the ego.
Some of my basic suggestions:
1. Create space in your life: Meditate, walk, pray, or just sit quietly. Whatever you do, put some time into being still. The initial effect might be agitation, but over time you will begin to create internal space, which will lead to patience and calm in chaos.
2. Become aware of what hooks you: Work with a coach, a mentor or a counselor who is willing to give you honest feedback about what is your part when you get caught in difficult situations.
3. Articulate who you want to be: Write it down on paper. Save it on a document in your computer or on your phone. Spend a little time articulating who you want to be and how you want to live your life. The act alone will help bring awareness to what is holding you back and the patterns that keep you from success.
These can become the basic steps to knowing yourself in a deeper way so that you can begin to communicate more authentically and with a greater impact in your work and in your life