Are You Self-Aware or Oblivious?
I’m not one to worry about people’s opinions very often. I’ll admit I’m one of those people that tends to clear the path and do good by my own intent not for the approval of others. However, life is of course more complex than that. It’s often stated, “perception is reality” for far to many.
But often, to move forward toward my own goals I need to get an updated check of other’s perceptions of what reality is for them. The reason is simple, to achieve my goals and others’ to achieve their goals we all are going to work together on things. It’s a simple thing really, it’s how humanity and society move forward as a whole.
I go through these cycles of gut checks, inquiries into others’ perceptions, collection of data, and the analysis of various situations I often get involved in. As I do this there are a lot of observations I’m able to make about other people’s self-awareness, or in some cases their obliviousness to what is actually going on. There are a number of specific things that tend to lead to this later scenario of obliviousness.
Being Self-important - When one falls from the graces of being humble, the risk of hubris becomes extreme. The self-important person doesn’t check with others on what’s going on, they become disconnected from what is happening with others with their team or other teams, and generally don’t communicate when needed to stay aware. Maintaining a humble demeanor, to stay approachable and also to make approaching others easier is fundamental to stay self-aware.
Unbalanced Introversion & Extroversion - There is the issue also, of over-communicating or under-communicating. If someone spends the majority of their time having water cooler conversations then they’re not moving forward with project conversations. The same with those not having water cooler talk and over-focusing on the project. The projects talk and water cooler talk interplay to build what becomes the story of what is made together. Striking a balance is very important.
Leadership Through Fear or Domination - This issue or summed up much more efficiently as leadership through fear and domination is really no leadership at all, it’s simply really poor bothersome management. It might work half-assed when you’re the authoritarian dictator of some second class Government with a military behind you, but that’s just a stop gap between now and you’re pending failure anyway. See world history for further references, but for right here and now suffice it to say you are not an authoritarian dictator. Being so will insure that you are not aware of the intent or pending actions of those working for you. You can also rest assured that people only work for you, not with working with you, inspired by you, or thinking for you. In the technology industry this is the last thing you ever want to fumble into, it is after all a huge dose of idiotic folly.
Douchebag Check - Seriously, does this need explained? Well, just to make sure people are aware of this time, let’s talk about it for a moment. Being a prick, douchebag, or any number of descriptions that fit the Silicon Valley Stereotype (nuance note I wrote stereotype, not saying all SVers) won’t serve anybody well over time. Eventually stepping outside of the bubble you’ll find yourself routinely passed on, checked, or directly stopped. Even with wealth and power, behaving like a uncouth brat will eventually slow or crash the most powerful. Case in point give a look see at Uber and Travis Kalanick’s disreputable behavior that he continuously struggles to keep in check (or does he?)
Misogny, Racism, and General Unconscious Bias - If you’re just racist, misogynistic, or some other bigot, I’m not sure why you’re aware of this and still reading my blog. Unless you’re trying to be a better person and have fewer issues in life and be more successful and less hateful, then read on. This is another area that severely reduces self-awareness if you’re directly and actively attracted and showing characteristics of these hateful behaviors. But, everybody at some time or another has some level of unconscious bias. This behavior towards other people we interact with on a daily basis can and is harmful. Identifying where our upbringing, general observations, how these have broken us, or to inadvertently discriminate against others is important to find and learn how to resolve.
Obliviousness Prevention & Fixes
I’ve written this, but it all begs the question, “what can I as an individual tactically and strategically do to prevent being oblivious?” Knowing to even ask that question is the starting point of becoming more aware of one’s self, one’s surroundings, and beyond.
Listen or more specifically I tend to say “STFU and listen”. Why so harshly, because it’s something we as people rarely do enough, and even more rarely do well. Listening is a multi-faceted skill. It isn’t just letting words or sounds be spoken or made toward your ears, that’d be fairly useless without comprehension and retention.
Unconscious Bias is most effectively countered by actively learning about others, reading and learning about bias and how we show this on a daily basis, and especially how it effects others around us. Remove these behaviors as often as possible. In the end the more diverse a team you work with, the more insight and solutions come forward, and the most all of the team gains. Otherwise, through research and more than a few studies, we know as a society that unconscious bias pushes people out. Simply, at the end of the day, nobody has time for this bullshit and patience wears thin in this regard really fast.
Serving Your Team as Contributor or Leader is the way you get the maximum out of your projects, and succeed most frequently. Again, I won’t go into vast detail since there’s more books than a person can read on the topic, and the internet is just sitting there waiting for you to do a search on the topic. But suffice it to say, if you’re leading or contributing always look for new ways to do so, look for ways to clear the path for your team, look for ways to set precedent and be an effective example. There isn’t any reason to wait, there isn’t a downside, move yourself and everybody forward. This is the type of leadership, and contributor interaction is what encourages others to look to you as a fellow member, a person to trust, and a person worth working with.
Humble in action, teach like a mentor, and help the team come to good, effective, and insightful answers. If you argue, then both work together to trace back the argument, get to the facts, and research what the diffidence is, and resolve it! Even if you know you’re right, but one disagrees, help find an amiable way to provide the information you used to come to the conclusion you have. Even if you’re looked at as a very senior person on staff, don’t act as if you’re above you’re fellow team. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t, you all still need to be successful. The side benefit of being humble, is you become approachable and people will come to you with problems and will also work more effectively with you for solutions.
For introversion and extroversion some ideas I’ve always worked with is to divide the day between these activities. Remember that meeting invites are simply that, invites. Control your scheduling, time box things, and you’ll gain control of the balance you’ll need to manage communication that comes from introverted or extroverted behaviors.
That’s it for now… onward to some #Golang.