Justin Donald Leader

Benefits Professional
  • Becoming Self-Aware Like Skynet

    Aug 31, 2015

by Justin Leader


Come with Me If You Want to Live. Becoming Self-Aware Like Skynet.

In the iconic film Terminator 2: Judgement Day, “Skynet” a military artificial intelligence became self aware on August 29th, 1997.  Immediately the computer system recognized humanity as a threat and began a systematic termination in order to preserve its own existence.

The concept of self awareness became a focal point in my daily thought process after listening to an epic YouTube video with Gary Vaynerchuk on the topic. Gary Vaynerchuk AKA Gary Vee, is an entrepreneur, investor, author, public speaker, and internet personality. Take a few moments and check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6tKf1IR5j8 .   Gary goes on to state that “Self-awareness at its finest is accepting your short comings and accentuating your strengths.”

Keeping that in perspective how often do we really focus on understanding what our personal strengths and weaknesses are? Over time our flaws can limit our ability for growth if we are not aware of them.  That being said the biggest issue I see is not that people don’t know what areas they are weak in, they often are completely oblivious to them.  I have made it a personal goal of mine to have a fierce conversation both with myself as well as 1-2 trusted peers each quarter regarding my personal and professional development.  I plan on doing this for the rest of my life.  I do not care if you are a seasoned professional or seasoned in life, there are always opportunities to grow.  If you believe otherwise then here is your first lesson in self-awareness, you probably have an inflated ego.

I look at a recent experience I had where a co-worker accepted an awesome opportunity at another company outside of our industry.  We have a very trusting and understanding relationship, plus she has a huge heart.  I appreciate her personality as she is not afraid of holding anything back when it comes to her honest opinion.  What better person to ask the following questions those of which I try to ask my peers every few months:

1.  I think I know what I do well.  Although not necessary, could you tell me the areas that you feel I perform well in?   (We all have egos, sometimes it feels good to reinforce what we do well.  Often I have found areas that are brought to my attention where I am exceeding and do not realize it.)

2.  I need to understand what I do wrong and where I can improve.  Based on your observations, can you please provide me with constructive feedback in areas where I am weak?   (I want my peer to be brutally honest here.  It could be that I have bad breath, or that my grammar is horrible.  I want to know. )

3.  Considering your observations as well as my limitations in certain areas, where do you think I should focus to capitalize on my strengths?  (There are areas where I could spend a lifetime trying to improve.  I want to maintain focus on my strengths while understanding my pitfalls.  If I am a good baseball player, I should play baseball, not badminton.)

Every single time I do this exercise I discover more about myself as well as the perception that people have regarding me. Much like a business if you are not growing revenue, you will remain stagnant eventually shrinking.  The same can be said about our personal development.  I like to keep in mind the greatest quote I can remember from the Terminator films: “The future is not set, there is not fate but what we make for ourselves”.  That being said, we must be willing to take a long hard look in the mirror regarding our own personal development.  I encourage you to perform this evaluation on yourself with people you know will give you honest and constructive feedback.

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