This blog and online community is based on the title of my company, Aspire2Higher. The work of the company has been designed around a set of nouns, characteristics, traits or ,as I call them “elements of success”; the framework describes that these elements, when embodied will equip people to define and create the success they desire. The first Element of Success under the A2H framework is SELF AWARENESS. As I have been dealing with personal challenges this year, I have been reflecting on my experiences and my goals; but I have more recently been in deep contemplation about myself, my goals and my connection with others.
This contemplation kept bringing to mind for me a phrase that I hear and used to use often as an educator; self in relation to others. I have had a strong self awareness for many years, and in fact believe that self awareness is essential as a leadership skill and in the pursuit of success. This is why it is the first and most important among the Elements A2H. In these most recent months, which have proven to be some of my most challenging times personally and professionally, I have realized that my self awareness alone is just the start; its on one end of the self understanding spectrum so to speak. Having an understanding of myself, in relation to others is truly where synergy lives. This can be the fuel for not only defining success but manifesting the success you envision. Having this kind of self awareness is a fluid process, and having an awareness of “self in relation to others” is achieving the most balance as you move (fluidly) along the spectrum of awareness.
Another way to think of this is with the Johari Window Model. I learned about this somewhere during the course of my graduate studies and it still resonates. It is also a tool I use when facilitating A2H empowerment sessions and sometimes individually with clients. The Johari Window model/technique was developed by two psychologists in 1955, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham (Johari is the combination of their 1st names). It is used widely in psychology, counseling and the self help industry but it is also used in communications, and business development and consulting. The general idea behind this technique/model is that we all have four quadrants (or four panes to a window ) of self awareness. Those four quadrants are: open, blind (spot), hidden/façade and undiscovered/unknown. Outside of the model (or window) are four other realms: Known to self, Unknown to self, Known to others and Unknown to others. The goal is to be a person or a team/organization that has free flowing movement and communication between the four quadrants and through the four outer realms, leading to a person or team that has a large “OPEN” quadrant. The larger open quadrant (or window pane) represents a person/team that has a great sense of self awareness, while also having a strong sense of themselves in relation to others. (Thank you for attending my self help TedTalk, LOL).
Additionally, I have come to understand the importance of self in relation to others as an educator, specifically from my study of and career in higher education. Just as I came to learn the Johari model in grad school, I learned about the Chickering Theory of Student Development (as ALL higher education grad students do); this theory has been widely used in the practice of higher education, specifically by those who engage college students outside of the classroom. For a quick overview, the theory, developed by Arthur Chickering (1969) has since been revised in 1993 and describes the overall development of college students. The theory states that students go through 7 vectors or tasks during college as they continue in their psychological & identity development. The two vectors that most closely connect to the Aspire2Higher framework are vector three- Moving through autonomy towards interdependence & vector four- Developing mature interpersonal relationships. A large part of the third vector (autonomy–interdependence) is about students pursuing their own interests and convictions but they begin to understand that they are part of a whole. The fourth vector is related to accepting and celebrating difference in others; respecting & appreciating those differences while learning the interconnectedness we share through our commonalities.
I find these models relevant in several ways. They have proven beneficial to me at this time, as I have been in this contemplation about myself, my goals, my company and the work I set out to do. These theories provide the context for my work in many ways as I guide others in discovering how important self awareness is for their personal and professional success. These theories have also helped me to establish my own theoretical framework-The Elements A2H and they inform my work with students, seasoned professional clients, young adult entrepreneurs and even organization leaders seeking to understand and connect with their units or teams.
As I have been thinking about my goals and the work of A2H, I had to ask myself two important questions: (1.) How are you perceived by others and (2.) who is your main “crew” or part of your tribe? As I reflect on where I’m headed both personally and professionally, its has been much more valuable to involve others in my process. The gift of having a “crew” (you guys know I speak in hip hop terminology) that you can be transparent with ,that you can explore your blind-spots with safely; and a crew that will tell you how you are viewed by them and others (again I stress safely) is an enormous value!
As part of the Elements A2H, self awareness is at the top of the list and enables you to embody the other elements. While it is vital to have self awareness, understanding yourself in relation to others will be far more advantageous for your personal & professional development. As such, I implore you to get you a crew that will be the safe space for your self exploration and reflection which I have described. I also offer to you, if you do not have this type of “crew” the A2H community can offer you that space and be a stand in crew for you!
(A2H Support Crew & A2H Empowerment Session details coming soon! SUBSCRIBE NOW for early access!)