#179 Unlock Your Potential: The Power Of Self-awareness For Career Growth

Blog header #179 Unlock Your Potential_ The Power Of Self-awareness For Career Growth  - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Are you aware of the power of self-awareness for career growth, but also in personal and professional relationships?

In this episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast, we talk about self-awareness and how to unlock your potential by becoming more self-aware.

According to Mark Cuban from The Lion’s Den: “Self-awareness is probably one of the most important skill sets that anyone can have.”

No one is perfect. We all have our imperfections and flaws. Some of us are better at attracting attention to our strengths than others. And some of us are so focused on our fears and weaknesses that everyone else notices those, too. 

What works for you does not necessarily work for me or the person next to you.

Another Internet personality, Mr Gary Vee (Vaynerchuck) has said: “Being at peace with your skillset is such an important part of this, part of you, part of your self-awareness. All your shortcomings are there for a reason.” 

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What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is like holding up a mirror to your inner world, giving you a front-row seat to your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and motivations. 

It’s about recognising your strengths and weaknesses, understanding your emotional triggers, and knowing how your actions affect others.

Imagine it as the backstage pass to the concert of your mind, allowing you to tune your instruments perfectly before the big show.

In the context of work, self-awareness for career growth is that secret sauce that can transform a good professional into a great one. 


First of all, being self-aware will empower you to play to your strengths and work on your areas for improvement. 

When you know yourself, you can adapt, communicate more effectively, and lead with empathy. 

It’s like being the director of a play where you know not just your role but how the entire production comes together for a standing ovation.

Self-Awareness Outside Career Settings

Self-awareness is equally transformative in life outside career settings. 

It’s the compass that guides your personal growth journey, helping you navigate through the highs and lows with grace and resilience. 

By understanding your emotions, you can create deeper connections with others, making life’s journey richer and more fulfilling. 

It’s about crafting a story where you’re not just a character but the author, fully in charge of the narrative.

So, why is self-awareness such an important asset? 

Because it’s the key to unlocking your potential in every aspect of life. 

It’s about knowing your script by heart, allowing you to improvise brilliantly in the ever-changing play of life and work. 

It leads to better decision-making, improved relationships, and a deeper sense of fulfilment. In essence, self-awareness is about seeing yourself clearly and intentionally shaping yourself.

Gary Vee on self-awareness

Self-awareness for Career Growth

What about self-awareness and career growth?

How can self-awareness help you in the professional setting?

I would say it can act as the Northern Star for your career journey, guiding you through the inevitable ups and downs while helping you navigate towards your goals. 

Here are seven ways how self-awareness lights up the path for career growth:

1. Self-Awareness Plays to Your Strengths and Addresses Weaknesses

Knowing your strengths allows you to leverage them more effectively in your job. 

Imagine pitching to a client or leading a project with a clear understanding of what you’re good at; it’s like playing a game on your home turf. 

Similarly, understanding your weaknesses isn’t about self-criticism; it’s about self-improvement. It allows you to seek opportunities for growth or find ways to compensate, turning potential pitfalls into stepping stones.

2. Self-Awareness Improves Communication and Relationships

Self-awareness helps you understand how you communicate and how others perceive your words and actions. 

Being more self-aware makes you somewhat of an expert editor of your own interactions, ensuring your messages are clear, your feedback is constructive, and your listening skills are top-notch. 

This, in turn, fosters stronger work relationships, often the bedrock of career advancement.

3. Self-Awareness Enhances Decision Making

When you’re a self-aware leader of your career growth, you understand what drives your decision-making process, including biases and emotional influences. And these, my friend, are super important today in a world attempting to become increasingly inclusive.

This switched-on clarity enables you to make choices that align with your life goals, aspirations and values. 

When I was a recruitment software entrepreneur and a recruitment consultancy owner at my first business and startup, Heebo, our business model was based on bringing talents and employers together based on shared values, behaviours, and mutual aspirations. 

During those years, I invested a fair bit of time in learning more about how to match values, aspirations and behaviours in ways that brought up not just the past experiences and key learnings but also the potential and key growth motivators in job seekers.

I discovered that self-awareness plays a central role in identifying one’s identity and worth in the labour market. 

The recruitment business and job-seeking ways are wired to look at history and sum up things that sound the same and make sense.

But what if you look outside the box and look at what you have achieved—I called this ‘what you have stacked in your rucksack’ – and what are the contents of your rucksack worth and to whom? And how can you leverage those for your future potential? 

Most job seekers ignore this area, and most recruiters—especially younger ones—don’t deal with it because they don’t yet know how. Yet, so many people and organisations could greatly benefit from it.

Being self-aware is like having a map and compass; even when the terrain gets tough, you know how to find your way and how to leverage what you are made of for the greater good for your benefit.

4. Self-Awareness Fuels Professional Growth

Self-aware individuals are adept at learning from experiences because they can critically reflect on their actions and their outcomes. 

This reflection turns even the smallest task or interaction into a learning opportunity, propelling you forward in your career. It’s about being both the student and the teacher in the classroom of your professional life.

This, I find, is super-important because how the world has changed for the better part of the last two decades means that we often have to take matters in our own hands because we might just know the most about them!

5. Self-Awareness Builds Leadership Skills

Leadership demands a deep understanding of oneself and one’s impact on others. 

Self-awareness allows you to lead with empathy, inspire authentically, and manage with understanding. 

It’s like being an orchestra conductor, knowing how to harmonise the individual talents of your team members into a symphony of success.

Self-aware people are more aware of their surroundings, more empathetic towards others, and more capable of recognising strengths and weaknesses in others, like their team members.

6. Self-Awareness Helps Adapt to Change

In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to adapt is crucial. Self-awareness equips you with the emotional flexibility to handle change and uncertainty. 

Self-awareness for career growth is also about recognising when to hold your ground and when to pivot, ensuring that you remain relevant and resilient no matter what the job market throws your way.

7. Self-Awareness Attracts Opportunities

Finally, self-awareness radiates authenticity and confidence, which are magnetic in the professional world. 

It draws opportunities towards you because people want to work with someone who knows who they are and where they want to go. It’s about being that someone to others that illuminates their paths and lights the way for others, too.

In essence, self-awareness is the cornerstone of building a fulfilling career. 

It’s about knowing your script, understanding your role, and performing it with conviction on the stage of your professional life.

Why Your Most Important Workplace Skill for Success and Career Growth is Self-Awareness?

Why is self-awareness your most important skill for succeeding in the workplace? 

Because the world is full of opportunities.

Mark Cuban from Lion’s Den is so poignant about self-awareness in this video:

He pinpoints: “You’ve gotta know what you are good at, what you are marginal at and what you suck at.”

I’ve used terms like “recognising and leveraging one’s own potential” and “identifying one’s own skills.”

Each of us defines success in the workplace in our way. It doesn’t necessarily have to refer to fame and fortune. Seeing opportunities requires understanding how we are wired.

How Are You Wired? 

Self-awareness means knowing your own limits and strengths. I know where I am and where I can excel. I know where I have room for development, provided the motivational factors are in place. 

Above all, I know my weaknesses. What I don’t know or how I can’t act will not change. It’s better to focus on my strengths.

I once developed a skills profiling form for Heebo, my first startup in 2010. 

It required professionals to bundle their skills and experiences thematically. Users loved it! 

They told me how they often wrote job applications almost mechanically, without much thought about what their CVs really said.

Identifying one’s skills [on Heebo] led users to reconsider their skills, achievements, and interests completely differently than they typically did when job hunting. 

Spontaneous feedback told us they didn’t really know how they were wired. So, we helped.

This model I developed on Heebo generated numerous insights for users. Many even realised they were applying for entirely wrong types of jobs. With Heebo’s approach, they were able to make a conscious change in their job-seeking patterns and land much better-fitting jobs!

Self-awareness helps us see and choose these right paths. 

Having been in the HR industry for a long time and half of it, I was heavily involved in recruitment; my experience is that a lack of skills is rarely the reason for a failed recruitment.

It is much more common to fail to land your next job or acquire talent due to poor self-awareness. I may imagine being capable of something that sounds interesting, but I might not consider the factors that prevent me from succeeding in it.

A completely identical job description on paper turns into different sets of tasks in practical everyday life. 

Regardless of the job description, the actual job is likely to be a different experience because your experience in the job will be significantly influenced by your expectations of what you might be capable of, your past performance in other organisations and cultures, and the size of the new employer’s business.

Furthermore, company location, your supervisor, the management culture, values, customers, the company’s financial situation, strategy, resources, and real interests (strategic emphasis) significantly influence how a role turns out regardless of what has been described as the role.

When faced with choices, we tend to choose the tasks we find most meaningful at the time. What if the true emphasis of the job description on paper is completely wrong for us?

How Your Hobbies and Other Interests May Give Clues of Your Potential

What interests me the most when I hire people is the last section of their job application titled “hobbies and other interests”.

This can reveal how the job applicant is wired and what potential they may have when translated into a work and business setting.

Unfortunately, job seekers and recruiters regularly overlook this incredible opportunity. The other party doesn’t reveal anything about their hobbies and interests, and the other party doesn’t know how to read, analyse, or explain why they should discuss hobbies and interests in more detail.

What we voluntarily spend our free time on gives a lot of clues about how we are wired. 

The hobbies and interests section usually lists hobbies that sound “media-sexy” to us, regardless of whether we have touched that tennis racket we mentioned in the last ten years.

Focus on this section the next time you write a job application. 

  • Think about how you spend your free time. 
  • What takes up the lion’s share of it? 

Then consider why you spend most of your time on that. What is it about this activity that fascinates you? Write it all down!

List what you have achieved and the value of your time spent to yourself or someone else. This way, you’ll already be on the path to self-awareness.

And I know we middle-aged folks blame everything on the busy years.

If all your free time goes into chauffeuring kids around and caring for the home, you can still identify elements in your everyday life where you excel and don’t, what you genuinely enjoy and why, and what drives you nuts.

I mean, I think parents who build careers and juggle everything at home and at work simultaneously are not just nearly burned out, but they are the people who I admire most in my work life. They are likely to be massively excellent at time management, have exceptional organisational/project management skills, and are probably also quite innovative and rich in ideas.

This all matters. This is all that is valuable in your professional rug sack, like so many other things, such as your networks and connections. Don’t ignore the complete picture of what you are made of and how it all reflects in what you are capable of, marginal at or suck and never want to do again. 

That’s what being self-aware is. The more self-aware you are, the more empowered you become. And that, my friend, is a key that unlocks the door to a more aspirational and authentic self and life.

P.S. Have you listened to or watched this episode, ‘Building a Stellar Career in Employer Branding‘, yet? You don’t want to miss it!

That’s all for this week, my dear audience!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast on your favourite podcast app or YouTube! 

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