I’ve never met a personality test I didn’t like. I love clicking even on the quirkiest of personality tests that show up on my Facebook feed. I am forever learning about my personality type—my bookshelf has a whole row just for the Enneagram. And I love talking about personality types. All you need to do is mention the Enneagram or the Myers Briggs from across the room, and I will beeline over to you.
Personality tests feel so cathartic. In the process of taking each new test, I feel illuminated, angles of my personality revealed in a new and helpful way. The way I move in the world makes a little more sense. It gives me new language to articulate my perspective to others, and it’s relieving to find out I’m not the only one.
My internal world has always been fascinating to me. This isn’t just about navel-gazing or self-improvement plans. Recently, I’m starting to see the important ways self-awareness impacts us as leaders and business owners.
I’m a marketing consultant, which means I get to help small businesses and leaders find intentional ways to draw clients and customers to their business or organization. One of my favorite parts of this work is the branding process—helping my clients to articulate what they do and why it matters, and distilling that down into a logo, a mission statement, and key messages.
Self-awareness is at the heart of this work. Authentic branding requires a clear sense of identity and purpose. Our businesses, positions of leadership, and side-hustles are expressions of who we are and our unique drive to make the world a better place. Each of us comes to our vocation with gifts and shadow sides. It’s through the process of becoming self-aware that we can lead with intention, create congruent brands that have integrity and draw our customers.
In other words, good marketing starts with self-awareness.
Whether you’re a business owner, looking for intentional ways to grow your business, or looking to lead in your life with more purpose, I invite you to delve into a self-awareness journey. Here are three of my favorite tools for self-awareness:
I promise I’m not being dramatic when I say this ancient personality typing system changed my life. While many personality tests give you one dimension of your personality type, the Enneagram shows the dynamic nature of how you’re wired and reveals your inner motivations for why you think, feel, and behave the way you do. To learn more about it, you can take online tests. But this typing system is best discovered through listening to a description of the nine different types and figuring out which number resonates most with your experience.
The simple act of putting pen to paper is one of the best ways I know to uncover my thought patterns and untangling my emotions. It’s much cheaper than therapy, but almost just as effective! Without editing or self-judgment, let your thoughts spill out onto the page. Usually, around halfway down page two, some revelation happens. I can distinguish the lies from the truth and move forward with clarity.
How rare is it for you to have space and time alone with your thoughts? Too often, our default mode is noise and busyness. Even in the margins, we opt for podcasts, music, social media, or Netflix over the company of our own thoughts. You need more time built into your days, weeks, and months of “you listening to you.” Try going on a walk without your phone with you. Spend an evening at home without turning on the TV. Or if you’re feeling really brave, get an Airbnb sometime soon for a weekend getaway with yourself.
Our world so desperately needs people, leaders, and business owners who are self-aware. Without self-awareness, we limit ourselves and let our blind spots keep us stumbling. “Until the unconscious becomes conscious, it will rule us and we will call it fate.” (Carl Jung)