Paradox of Self-Awareness

Paradox of self

Ever wondered why some people who don’t seem that self-aware are getting better opportunities?


Why better qualified, more capable people seem to hold themselves back?

The answer lies in the paradox of self-awareness.

For many years we’ve heard that ‘being self-aware’ is an important trait for leaders. However, what we’re not told is that there are four types of self-awareness, two of which aren’t actually as helpful as you’d think.

Here’s the four types of self-awareness and how you can journey through them…


A – Goal Focused: this is the base level of awareness where an individual’s sense of self is focused purely on how they believe they need to act to get results. Unfortunately, often this awareness doesn’t extend to the full impact they have on others and hence they may deliver the goal, but it doesn’t bring fulfilment.

B – Over Regulated: this level of awareness is where an individual’s sense of self starts to get in their way. They’re more questioning of who they are and the impact they have, hence they start to doubt and over regulate themselves. Through this over regulation, they hold themselves back through feelings of inadequacy causing their success and fulfilment to decline.

C – Evolving: this level of awareness is where an individual begins to create their path for living and leading. They’re exploring their identity and purpose, developing greater confidence in how they’ll show up as a leader and what they’ll contribute to the world. Once on this path their success and fulfilment grow with their confidence in their authentic identity and purpose.

D – Purposeful: this level of awareness is where an individual feels fully comfortable in their own skin. Through their authentic identity, they ‘show up’ in the world in support of their purpose, keeping their attention focused on that which matters most. Success and fulfilment become a product of their purposeful contribution to the world.

Too many people find themselves trapped in the ‘over regulated’ space. They feel compelled to live to the preconceptions of others rather than letting go and focusing more on purposeful contribution.

Success and fulfilment are more than just about the goal in any moment. They’re also about the journey in getting there and the contribution to make to others.

Something to consider

How do you identify yourself? In this definition, what helps and what hinders your success and fulfilment?

Something to try

Next time you’re worried about what someone thinks about you, ask yourself why is it important to you? Then ask, what’s the real evidence you have that they might think that way?

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