There’s something completely thrilling about the start of a year.

For me, it starts with diving into a fresh planner—yes, call me old-fashioned, but I adore the tactile joy of turning pages. And this year, I went all out and snagged these massive monthly wall calendars. They’re like looking at a breathtaking landscape of possibilities!

Okay, confession time: My “new year” enthusiasm typically kicks in around October. I know, I can’t help it. I’m a junky for learning, and I thrive with visual images and kinesthetic interaction. Just writing about planning for a new year has my heart racing with excitement!

Now, let me clarify: Not everyone should plan their year like a junky with markers and pens. It took years of self-discovery to realize that this method suits me best. For some, a planner might be a distraction, especially if they prefer electronic organization. We each have our unique frameworks that bring out our best.

This whole planning extravaganza stems from self-awareness.

I’m what you might call an absent-minded professor. You know, the type who might accidentally show up in slippers because my brain registers “feet covered” without caring about actual shoes. I’ve caused some frustration, showing up on the wrong date because I was more focused on the people and event than the time-space details.

It took a while for me to grasp that my own quirky time continuum stressed others out. Who wants a professional leader shuffling about in slippers? I finally understood that my distractedness wasn’t just my problem; it affected others. Every behavior holds purpose and meaning. To me, I was lost in my thoughts; to others, I disrupted their preparedness and focus.

Most people believe they’re self-aware. Research says otherwise.

This is where self-awareness steps in. Dr. Tasha Eurich’s research delves into this realm. Out of 5,000 people studied, a staggering 95% reported being self-aware. However, the research found only 10-15% were truly self-aware.

Here is a powerful statement from Dr. Eurich, an organizational psychologist, “Having self-awareness means fully knowing who you are—your values, passions, goals, personality, strengths and weaknesses—and understanding how others perceive you. People who are self-aware at work are better performers and more promotable.” said Eurich. “They tend to be more respected and trusted co-workers and more effective leaders.” Beyond the workplace, she added, they’re generally happier in their personal relationships, and tend to raise less narcissistic children.

I bet you’re pondering your own self-awareness right now. I sure was when I read this.

Famous self-aware leaders – can we all agree on one?

When our team decided to identify well-known leaders who we could all agree were self-aware, we had quite the discussion. Mother Teresa? A friend who met her in person described her as blunt and impatient. It was her personal story of realizing that changing the world didn’t demand being nice. (Although I adore Mother Teresa—just a tiny perspective for this story’s sake).

We searched for examples of self-awareness in past Presidents, famous personalities, and finally settled on Ted Lasso. He embodies kindness in leadership, and his journey of self-awareness in the television series is a valuable investment of time for anyone on a leadership path.

Dr. Eurich’s research highlighted a surprising trend: the higher someone is in leadership, the less likely they are to be self-aware. Why? Lack of safe spaces for candid, caring feedback on how their behaviors impact leadership. Leadership fundamentally relies on trust. Without input from trusted advisors and truth-tellers, we can damage people, visions, and our own reputations.

As we step into this new year, I’m immensely grateful for my inner circle—those who bravely speak hard truths with gentle words. I’m excited, hopeful, and curious about approaching 2024 differently than I did 2023.

Embrace the wisdom of your truth-tellers.

I’m not seeking a “New Year, New Me.” I want this flawed, compassionate, fun-loving version of me, scars and all, to forge new stories and to create opportunities for others to thrive. A new year is a precious gift. Embrace the wisdom of your truth-tellers. You’ve got this—one year, one shot. You can’t control everything, but you can learn about yourself and push with determination to live out your vision and purpose this year.

Ready to embark on your own journey of self-discovery and leadership transformation? Let’s team up to navigate this year of growth together. We would love to support you in unlocking your true potential and leading with authenticity while accomplishing your strategic vision.