By: Dale A. Hicks, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Certified CEO Effectiveness Executive Coach
One of the many advantages that humans have over other species is the ability to communicate. As a result, we do not need to learn everything through our own experience. Rather, we can benefit from the experiences, wisdom and thinking of others throughout history. Through the written word, we can pass information and knowledge from one person to another and across generations, allowing for an ever-increasing cumulative base of knowledge. This is why Sherpas, who are familiar with the mountain paths, are valued by those who wish to climb.
I would not go so far as to agree with the famous quote that Plato attributed to Socrates that, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” However, as Dr. Anton suggests in his recent post, the ability and willingness to share the process of one’s examined life can provide not only interesting and useful information, but also can offer tremendous insights and models for gaining access to our own truer selves and to the kind of self-knowledge that can be transformational in our own lives.
Bob Chapman, in his newest book Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People (2015), not only provides a brilliant resource for all leaders seeking to enhance their leadership practices through self-knowledge, but allows the reader to gain insights into the evolution of his beliefs and the transformation of his leadership practices. Bill Anton, in his book Business Success through Self-knowledge (2013), goes further to provide excellent guidance to the reader. He lays out practical steps for achieving self-knowledge, which inevitably results in more effective leadership skills and practices. Some of the more endearing and insightful sections of Bill’s book are those in which he shares instances from his own professional life which, in retrospect, he would have managed differently had he approached them with greater self-knowledge.
Authors, mentors, parents, colleagues and leaders offer us a special gift when they are willing to share not only their knowledge and wisdom, but also the evolving process of their own experiences and thinking that led them to that knowledge.
Memoirs and other forms of writing can be interesting and can provide useful knowledge. They can even be inspirational. But influential people in our lives who share the evolution of their own beliefs may be the most helpful in allowing us to increase our own self-knowledge. They can model a pathway of self-examination, personal growth and self-mastery.
Bill Anton’s new book, Ascend: Forging a Path to Your Truer Self (2015) presents a delightful parable that shows the reader how to begin the transformational process of change through self-knowledge, in part, through exposing the obstacles that hinder our progress on that path. It is not only a great book for business leaders but is also an excellent read for teenagers and college students, as well as anyone else who wishes to make positive and transformational changes in their lives and the lives of those around them. To be sure, it lays an excellent foundation. To go even further in understanding the process of transformational change, rapid strides can be made through psychotherapy, coaching or any other process that requires a careful examination and questioning of the beliefs and mental models we hold onto and which limit our greater achievement and potential.