Lockdown has allowed me to spend a lot of time in my local park. I’m lucky that it’s big and full of different landscapes, from open fields to formal gardens. I felt, before this year that I knew it well – but I now realise that I had no idea.
One of the amazing things I’ve come to see during the pandemic is that there are always new routes to find, new paths, burrows and passageways. Every week I seem to stumble on fresh corners, parts of formal gardens that I never knew were there, even a new viewing area for the resident deer.
It’s a strange, uncomfortable process because I realise I have been fooling myself. I thought I knew the place inside out, but the more I look, the more I see.
How has this happened? Well, I guess I’d never before had the time to really look, to wonder, and to follow my interests and curiosities. What has resulted is a new internal map of this space, some new favourite bits (and some dead-ends).
As I found another new path last week, the penny dropped for me: This is so much like the process we go through with our users and clients at Untapped AI.
Because this is what the experience of growing self awareness is like. By giving some time and space to follow our curiosity down new paths, to explore and ask questions, we expand the map of our internal lives. We discover new links. We get to know better what makes us feel good and what less so, what we want and need, and how we might get there.
We even remember things that we have forgotten or hidden away from ourselves. We see more clearly what has always been there – in our relationships, our patterns of living – and we then suddenly have more choices about the potential paths we might follow.
Interestingly, there is increasing neuroscience to show that this is what physically happens in the brain too. As self awareness grows, new neural pathways are formed. Some of our automatic responses and behaviours – neural shortcuts – come unstuck and a re-wiring takes place.
This is why building self awareness can be exhausting, difficult work – but also incredibly powerful.
Now imagine that power, but multiplied across an organisation. Many individuals discovering new things about themselves, pushing their limits, and becoming more confident in who they are. This is why study after study has shown that innovation, productivity and ultimately the bottom line all benefit from a more self-aware workforce.
Combine that with the leaders of an organisation building awareness of the group patterns at work across their teams. It’s an extraordinary force for change, growth and agility.
Like a curious walk in the park, the power of growing self awareness might seem unexpected. But it is one of the most incredible paths you can take, both as an individual and whole organisation.