Self-awareness is the key to personal growth. Without accurate information regarding our own strengths and weaknesses, we can really fool ourselves. We can mess up projects, relationships and even life plans. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is the best way to really know yourself.

A study done by Cornell psychologists Dunning and Kruger in 1999 identified a cognitive bias that causes people to be unable to recognize their own incompetence. In fact, the more incompetent we are, the more likely we are to overestimate our abilities.

The 1999 paper that launched the Dunning-Kruger Effect was called “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.” Lack of self-awareness can harm us greatly and hinder us from advancing at work, achieving life goals and building healthy interpersonal relationships.

Do you know your own abilities and limitations? The best way to battle this cognitive bias is to improve your self-awareness skills. Here are some indicators to help you evaluate your own self-awareness.

Top 4 Indicators of Self-Awareness

1. Wisdom

People with self-awareness understand the importance of knowing themselves. These people understand that you can’t improve what you do not acknowledge, and you can’t align yourself with success if you don’t know where to apply your skills.

2. Honesty

They talk about themselves accurately. These people are able to accurately explain both their strengths and their weaknesses. In other words, they do not tell the “fishing story.” You know, the one where the fish gets bigger and bigger each time they tell the story. These people do not try to make themselves sound better than they might be. They also, however, do not sell themselves short.

3. Humility

They are not self-focused. People who grasp their limitations and their impact understand that they need teammates to be successful. They appreciate the value that other people add and know which strengths they need on their team to complement their own. They give other people the chance to be in the spotlight and celebrate their achievements. A self-centered person does not make a good team player.

4. Confidence

They want to hear it from you straight. These people are secure and confident in themselves. Rather than spending their efforts in covering up mistakes or hiding weaknesses, they’ve already done the self-evaluation to come to grips with who they are and who they are not.

The good news is that self-awareness can be developed. If you don’t have it, you can grow it with the help of your MAP and feedback from other people.

If you have self-awareness, that’s wonderful. We encourage you to continue growing and setting personal development goals in the workplace. Keep learning about yourself so you can be more effective as an employee and in any other role you have for the rest of your life.


Self-awareness is being honest with yourself about who you are. This honesty makes you a more real and genuine person.

To cultivate self-awareness, you must understand the importance of knowing yourself. If you tell yourself anything other than the truth, you will never be happy. As Dr. Henry Cloud writes in Integrity, “Reality is always your friend.” You have to tell yourself the way things really are, not the way you want things to be.

If you focus too much on yourself, you do not possess enough self-awareness. A truly self-aware person realizes he or she needs others to succeed and values their contributions. This type of person is confident enough to respect themselves while also honoring others as unique, capable and valuable.

Do you know your own strengths, weaknesses, motivators and how you behave in the workplace? The MAP is a great way to find out.