One of the cornerstones of your personal and professional success is to know thyself (γνῶθι σεαυτόν – pronounced “gnothi seauton”).
These two words were carved in stone at the entrance of the Temple of Apollo at the oracle in Delphi, Greece over 3000 years ago. At that time, people would go to the oracle to ask Apollo for advice on how to proceed with life changing decisions. Today, you could just Google your question. However, deep down the need of knowing thyself hasn’t changed. Easier said than done right? Here are three steps on how to begin the journey of knowing thyself.
Ever seen 1999 movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? The protagonist cannot commit to anything, specifically weddings, mainly because she doesn’t know herself. At some point in the movie, Richard Gere’s character asks her how she liked her eggs: sunny side up, benedict, or over easy? You guessed it right: she didn’t know the answer for something as basic as breakfast eggs.
Do you? Have you observed your likes and dislikes? Do you know most answers to questions about yourself: What is your favorite hobby? Favorite writers? What task engages you so deeply that you forget a ticking clock? What is your favorite wine? The answers to these questions won’t all come by engaging in daily dialogue with yourself. You will need to try things out, have new and various experiences to engage your senses. How do you feel when you try to decide what’s best for you. Use common sense and prudence as you embark on your self-knowledge journey to gather empirical data points about yourself.
There are numerous informal quizzes in magazines, scientific tests, and courses online you can take to help you learn more about yourself, your strengths, and traits and even shed light on career leanings. Many of these tools require analysis and guidance from trained experts. These tests include the Myers-Briggs personality test, the Emotional Intelligence Test, and the MAPP Test (Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential) among others. How do the results from these tests compare to your empirical findings from the first section?
Knowing your strengths, personality traits, and even how you like your eggs is important. You can build on these strengths and enhance and broaden your life, choose a career path that excites you, dream new dreams, take calculated risks, care about causes close to your heart, and live a well rounded life.
Self-knowledge is a life-long journey. As you grow older and experience life’s ups and downs, undoubtedly you will evolve and change, perhaps even dramatically. This life long journey of knowing thyself could begin with these three basic steps.
Marina Theodotou is a global PPP Strategist who inspires teams to carve new paths in the realms of womenomics, entrepreurship and sustainability. She teaches leadership & management courses at the American Management Association and is an Ajdunct Faculty Member at Hunter College.
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