Self Awareness & Its importance in Education by Sohan Tiwade -Corporate Soft Skills Trainer & Professional Speaker


A  Guru took his  disciples to  show  them  a  cemetery  where  famous  people  from  the  world ,where laid to rest after their death. After the tour of the cemetery, the students were confused ,as  the  names  displayed  over  the  tombs  were  of  commoners.  One  of  the  disciples  mustered ,courage to ask the Guru. “Where are the so-called famous people?” He questioned. The Guru , calmly replied with a twinkle in his eye, “All these were meant to be famous but they never, realized it all their lives and were buried with their greatness still inside them.”

Most  of  our  education  system  today  has  been  guilty  of  producing  graduates,  professionals ,who  know  everything  related  to  the  world  but  hardly  know  themselves.  It‟s  good  to  have ,knowledge  of  the  world  or  the  skill  we  are  required  to  perform  at  our  jobs.  But  we  cannot ,ignore  the  consequences  of  not  knowing  ourselves.  Our  Education  system  today  needs  to ,imbibe  Self  Awareness  as  one  of  its  prime  responsibilities.  Have  you  heard  of  the  very ,talented leader or a Head who was brilliant at his job but very poor at handling people, who at ,the slightest provocation could burst out into tantrums which made him very repulsive? Well ,we  all  have  come  across  such  people?  What  about  the  students  who  are  brilliant  but  can‟t ,handle  the  pressure?  What  about  the  students  who  come  out  with  a  low  self  esteem  that ,affects their whole life because the word „failure‟ was branded on their report card?

Stephen Covey says, “Private Victory always precedes Public Victory” In other words unless ,I know myself, have victory over myself; I cannot win in the world out there. Even if I do so, ,it will be short – lived and a sham.  We have already seen examples of „Public failures‟ like ,Enron  scandal  which was  primarily  due  to  „Private  failure‟.  Enron  was  known  to  have ,recruited only the academically elite. But still it was involved in one of the corporate world‟s ,most  scandalous  deeds.  When  we  talk  of  Self  Awareness  and  try  to  understand  what  is  Self ,Awareness, let‟s think of the both the horizontal and vertical axis

The  vertical  axis  represents  our  relation  with  ourselves,  while  the  horizontal  axis  represents ,our  relation  with  others.  So  Self  Awareness  is  the  ability  to  recognize  and  understand ,emotions  in  yourself  and  others  and  your  ability  to  use  this  awareness  to  manage  your ,behaviour and relationships.

Sohan Tiwade,
Corporate Soft Skills Trainer & Professional Speaker
Asst. Prof. Sanjay Ghodawat University.

Why is Self Awareness such a big deal?  Picture this, if you are out in the dark night through ,an  unknown  path  and  you  aren‟t  aware  of  the  next  step,  you  will  be  diffident  and  the  next ,step you take could prove to be  your nemesis. Life without Self Awareness can confine  you ,to mediocrity. It can rob you of the richest resources that are within you.

We all are aware of the story where Abdul who is happy with his small farm and his family ,once when introduced to value of diamonds, sells his farm and house and goes to the land of ,Europe and Africa in search of diamonds that could make him rich. He spends all his fortune ,in the search but never gets any diamonds. He gets depressed and ends his life.  But behind in ,his  town  at  his  own  farm,  the  neighbour  who  had  brought  his  farm  once  sees  a  shinning ,pebble in the stream that runs across his farm. On further probe he comes to know that they ,are  diamonds!  Abdul  has  lost  his  life  in  search  of  diamonds  elsewhere  while  the  diamonds ,were located all these years in his own farm.

That  is  the  typical  tragedy  of  not  being  Self  Aware.  Many  of  our  students  lose  the  most ,valuable  resource  which  is  themselves  and  the  potential  that  is  hidden  within.  „Johari ,Window‟  talks of the Area in our lives called as „Unknown‟ area which we or others aren‟t ,aware of. It is this area that if tapped into can transform us.

Usually  we  find  that  many  people  see  a  division  between  their  internal  standards  and  their ,thoughts and actions. They will not have the clarity or courage to say „no‟ because they have ,not decided their internal „yes‟ to something. If I am aware of my internal standards it is then ,I can say no to those things that are contrary to my internal standard. That is when I am really ,Self Aware. Stephen Covey the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says, “You can ,only  say  „no‟  to  something  when  there  is  a  deeper  „yes‟  burning  within.”  Now  we  can ,understand  that  when  our  students,  our  graduates  go  out  in  the  world  and  have  to  deal  with ,any  issue,  they  really  don‟t  have  any  standard  to  rely  on.  This  is  because  they  have  never ,evaluated themselves. They are not aware of their values and as a result their actions will be ,confusing.  They  will  have  no  measure  to  fall  back  on.  Sometimes  they  may  do  what  their ,conscience says is right but very rarely stick to it because once they see the crowd going after ,the next popular thing, they too will follow  the crowd despite it going against their ,conscience.

So it is important that one of the primary goals of Education should be „Self Awareness‟. We ,can  have  various  curricular,  co  –  curricular  and  extra  –  curricular  activities  to  promote  Self ,Awareness  in  our  students.  Here  are  some  of  the  things  that  could  be  encouraged  among ,students to help them with Self Awareness.

  1. Ask students  to  write  something  that  they  love  about  themselves.  Let  them  paste  the ,positive reminders about themselves in their rooms where they can see every day.
  2. Teach them  the  cause  and  effect  relationship  between  Thoughts,  Feelings  and  Action ,which again lead to the same thoughts.
  3. Help them to assess their emotions in different situations. When do they feel angry? When ,do they feel  joyful?  When  do  they  feel  down?  Have  them  write  it  out  and  keep  a  record  so ,that they would have a deeper understanding of themselves.
  4. Help students  with  Goal  setting  techniques.  What  do  I  really  want?  Let  them  answer  it. ,Ask  them  to  have  an  action  plan  ready  to  achieve  what  they  want.  They  could  also  include ,goals for the academic year.
  5. SWOT Analysis.  Let  students  evaluate  their  Strengths,  Weaknesses,  Opportunities  and ,Threats.

Educational fraternity could think of many such more activities to be a part of their curricula ,or  other  activities.  If  we  do  this  we  will  have  a  future  generation  with  a  healthy  self ,awareness, adaptable to different situations, better able to handle their emotions and thus their ,relations.  We  will  have  a  generation  that  is  Self  confident,  clear  of  their  values  and  a ,generation that will lead us into a better future and a better world.

I would encourage  you the readers to  again go to the wonderful story,  „The Animal School‟ ,by George Reavis and especially meditate on this wonderful quote in the fable,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its, whole life believing that it is stupid.” George Reavis

The importance of Self Awareness in our Education system cannot be overlooked, indeed as, the quote by Laila Gifty Akita the founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation rings true

“Self Knowledge is the greatest education.” 

Sohan Tiwade,
Corporate Soft Skills Trainer & Professional Speaker
Asst. Prof. Sanjay Ghodawat University.