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.
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.
- 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.
- Teach them the cause and effect relationship between Thoughts, Feelings and Action ,which again lead to the same thoughts.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
Corporate Soft Skills Trainer & Professional Speaker
Asst. Prof. Sanjay Ghodawat University.