Success doesn’t begin by dreaming big, nor by setting intriguing life goals. The first step to success is self-awareness. Before choosing a career, before embarking on any journey in life, one must explore one’s ability, strength, weaknesses, feelings, desires and interests. It begins by asking a few questions like: Who am I? Where am I?

Someone once defined self-awareness as understanding your own needs, desires, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick. It is finding out all that distinguishes you from others. This can also be referred to as self-knowledge, introspection. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting to life’s changes to suit your needs.

Self-awareness is the pathway to success. This is because success is not an event or a result in isolation; it is an expression of the best that is within you. It is doing something or becoming something that expresses your full personality and abilities in the noblest way. Regardless of the form of success you aspire, whether in business, career, relationship, your first bet is to understand yourself. However, note that the more you dig, the more you will find not only jewels and valuable matters, but also debris and shits that are hard to believe are there. The goal of self-awareness is development. Hence, don’t stop digging, just mine out the debris and move on.

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Here are few things you should know about the need for self-awareness.

Tracking your destination begins by finding your location.

Since the advent of technology, we really don’t need to use a paper map. Several things have been used by explorers, travellers and tourists to track routes and find their destinations. These include the compass, GPS and the recent Google Map. Interestingly, both the old and the new share almost similar features, one of which is finding your present location. The first thing that pops up when you open your Google Map application on your Android, IOS or windows phone is the request to turn on your location. This helps the App to find where you are on the map. Moreover, to find direction to one’s destination, it’s imperative that one inputs one’s exact location.

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In the same vein, finding your path to success and getting the direction to your destiny can only be possible when you can tell where you are exactly.  You can’t get to where you want to be without knowing exactly where you are right now. This is because leading yourself well requires and begins with being as self-aware as possible about where you are. You should understand yourself internally and externally, the circumstances and conditions around you. Self-awareness is the basis of the quantified self-movement, which assumes that if you collect data about yourself you can make improvements based on the data. This also defines the direction and path that suits you best.

The more you understand yourself, the clearer and more interesting the journey becomes. It helps you to better understand why you do things the way you do them, your likely reaction and response to circumstances and events. For instance, knowing that you can’t stand the sight of a large expanse of water helps you to carefully search out for the route that does not require you to cross a river. Nevertheless, in a situation whereby there is no other route, you are prepared for the task ahead and can probably find a good swimming suit and hire a good boat.

Success is the expression of who you are.

It is common to think that success is measured by the number of plaques on the wall, the millions in the bank, or the population following one. On the other hand, success is how much of yourself you know and how much you have been able to express. Speaking on leadership, Warren Bennis wrote, “Leaders have no interest in proving themselves, but an abiding interest in expressing themselves.” You will discover that by trying to prove yourself, you sap up the strength in you, and guess what? You goof. This is because it is not you. It’s not your ‘real face’ but simply a camouflage, which is foolishness.

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So, don’t make the mistake others make by trying to measure your fulfilment by what others have achieved. It’s a waste of time. Pay more attention to finding yourself and expressing it. The result of this is uniqueness and grace.

Success is not imposed, and it’s not automatic. It’s your responsibility to lead yourself well by knowing what you’re good at, what bothers others about you, and what your blind spots are. These are inquiries you should make about yourself.

In order not to be the photocopy of another, it is vital to be self-aware, know your strengths and limitations. Be yourself, and be the best of you.