Every leadership model discusses the importance of starting the journey with you.  Stephen Covey starts the 7 Habits for Highly Effective People with a “Private Victory.”  The Emotional Intelligence model starts with “Self-Awareness” and “Self Management.”  When one receives the results from a personality assessment, whether Myers-Briggs, Insights, or DISC, the facilitation experience always starts with an understanding of what the assessment is telling you about you before going into an understanding of others.

So if all these leadership gurus are recommending self-awareness as the first step, I think it is worth taking a second look at.  The beginning of my current leadership journey started 23 years ago.  I was working as a sales associate at Luck Stone.  I was a 240-pound, uneven tempered guy who destroyed relationships quicker then I was making them.  My mindset had me thinking the fastest way to the top was to step on people on my way up.  That mindset landed me in the office of several executive shrinks, each of them with an opinion of how to fix my life.  The only guy who actually got through to me predicted my future.  “You will be very successful Mark,” he said, “but you will be sharing that success with no one.”  When I heard those words I realized how much I valued family, and how much I valued those close relationships I wasn’t taking the time or care to develop.  That was when my journey shifted.

It didn’t happen overnight but I started being aware of my actions, words, and body language.  That is the first step: Be Aware.


There are all types of tools you can utilize to become a bit more aware of who you are and how you are being perceived.  The most effective (and cheapest) is to just start paying attention to yourself and asking questions.  Stephen Covey says self-awareness “enables us to stand apart and examine […] the way we “see” ourselves […]” (p 67). At this stage, one should not see great changes in their behavior – one should just be consciously aware of their current behavior.

The Arbinger Institute narrates through their novel, Leadership and Self-Deception, a story about a new hire named Tom who is introduced to his new company’s Leadership Philosophy during an intensive 2 day, one-on-one training.  It discusses how each of us look to validate our behavior and thoughts by justifying them in others. It also discusses how we can start “getting out of the box” and stop deceiving ourselves.  Ask yourself:

  • Do I listen when people talk?
  • How do I respond to new information? Am I defensive?
  • How do people respond to me?
  • How do I process information?
  • Where do I gain my energy? Do I actively seek moments that give me energy?

When you reflect on those answers do they paint the picture of the person you want to be?  Do they reflect the true you? Are you taking a hard look in your mirror and truly seeing who you are?

If any of your answers are no, just remember, “every journey needs to start with a first step.”



Mark Fernandes

Mark Fernandes

Having a passion for inspiring people to believe in themselves and become everything they are capable of becoming, Mark works with individuals and organizations to inspire transformation. @MarkSFernandes

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