No. 3: Building your self-awareness + article in Harvard Business Review

How can you develop your self-awareness, moment by moment, each day? I teach entrepreneurs the following simple self-awareness framework, which is an expanded form of mindfulness — defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” — and which was published today (!) in a Harvard Business Review article I co-wrote with Trish Cotter, the exec director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

Self-Awareness Framework:

  1. Noticing: Bringing attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in the present moment.

  2. Labeling: Assigning a simple label (e.g. feeling annoyed at my co-founder) to what you notice, every time you notice it.

  3. Getting curious: Without judgement, reflecting on the patterns you notice over time. (e.g. Huh, I’m feeling annoyed at my co-founder a lot. Why is that? Am I expecting something from her and not getting it, perhaps?)

  4. Active choice-making: Making an informed choice, based on your self-reflection. (e.g. Rather than stewing in this feeling any longer, I think I’ll chat with a mentor about the problem and plan a sit-down with my co-founder to talk about how I’ve been feeling.)

You can practice this yourself at any point during the day — when you realize you're feeling agitated on a Zoom call, on a walk outside, when you're washing dishes. And, you can train your brain to notice and label particularly efficiently by practicing mindfulness meditation, which has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and help regulate emotion. It doesn't have to be a lot — even a few dedicated minutes a few times a week can have a noticeable impact. Over time, you'll find that you are having fewer outsized reactions to small challenges, and you're working through the fear related to big challenges more quickly. It's powerful and data-backed stuff.

If you're just tuning in to Rational Confidence Letter for the first time today, check out last week's post Why self-awareness? for more background on why self-awareness matters, and why it's the focus of this newsletter.

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