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Study Zone

Know yourself

Becoming self-aware will help you develop and grow, says Jackie Durham

May 2018

The Ancient Greek saying ‘know thyself’ (to obtain wisdom) is often attributed to Socrates. Whether that is correct or not, it is true that there is much to be gained in life, love and your CIMA studies by becoming more self-aware.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a great fan of personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats) analysis. You can use it to help assess and understand a variety of situations from the personal to the professional. What makes it work effectively is self-reflection and self-awareness.
Despite how abstract this all sounds, once you get the hang of the SWOT process you will be armed with a practical approach that will empower you to do better and be better. It will allow you to develop the sorts of skills that leaders and successful business people need. For example, skills such as resilience, empathy, emotional intelligence, and insight into your own behaviours and that of others
Let us look at some situations where SWOT analysis can help.
Scenario: You have just failed a CIMA exam for the second time and you are feeling down. You think to yourself, “anyone can fail once but my mark hasn’t improved much. Will I ever pass?” The answer is, of course, yes, but you do need to reflect and understand where you went wrong to improve next time around. Completing a SWOT can flag up where you might have done things differently. Most importantly, it requires you to be honest with yourself. So ask questions reflecting on:
• Your strengths and weaknesses: did you really know and understand how to apply Porter’s Five Forces or, did you skim read that section in your textbook?
• Opportunity and threats: rather than practise the questions you found the hardest until you felt confident did you cross your fingers and hope those topics wouldn’t come up?
These questions and reflections are a way to identify the obstacles that are stopping you from going beyond and attaining success. In addition, self-reflection will help you understand who you may need to ask for help or how you can help yourself. And note: help from others does not just mean practical help – it can also come in the form of feedback and constructive criticism.
Developing self-awareness is not easy. In fact, it can be very difficult because it requires deep reflection and the bravery to assess one’s own character and experiences that have made us the way we are. It forces honesty about strengths and weaknesses, our motivations and aspirations. If done well it will usually force us to reshape our behaviours and general approach. Moreover, like many hard roads, it is one worth travelling – it could be the key to your success.
To get you started on self-reflection, why not try one of the many personality quizzes available these days. Here is a link to the Myers Briggs one – https://tinyurl.com/2pcgss. I took this one and was amazed at how accurate the results were…
• Jackie Durham, education and training consultant, CIMA

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