How well do you know yourself?


When was the last time you really looked at who you are? Knowing your strong  and shadow sides as well as sensitivities and drives, serves as a prerequisite for leadership. We tend to think we know ourselves. Indeed, we are in contact with ourselves every day. We hear, see, and feel.

However, a lot of these moments happen unconsciously. Perhaps you lose your patience in similar situations or unintentionally become quiet and shy when a boisterous person enters the room. This scenario leads to many possible situations and reactions. What they have in common is that they trigger a reaction of your past. When that happens, there is no room for out-of-the-box thinking anymore.

You are reacting exactly as you have done many times before, leading to fixed ways of thinking. I experienced this in my personal life. I am driven to deliver work of high quality and standards. In principle, there is nothing wrong with this drive. It is professional, and people rely on what I deliver. It becomes a problem when you attribute this feeling with everything you do such as starting up a new hobby while expecting to make wonderful sculptures, proving to be an expert from the start. I could rationally see that it was not realistic. My feelings told me something different – make sure you are good enough. This feeling determined from which thought and energy I was starting up new projects. Sometimes I did not start up at all, remaining discouraged. I lost the free, open mindset needed to initiate new things.

The way to open up this fixed way of thinking, is to know who you are. In my personal life, I discovered the root cause while I was coached by a professional coach. It went back to an age of 6 years old. I just left kindergarten and went to class 1. The teacher checked our starting levels of reading and calculating. Most children could answer the questions; I hardly knew anything. I felt dumb and insecure. I did not want to experience this feeling again. Unconsciously, I took the decision: “make sure you are good enough.”

A clearance was created after this discovery. It was no longer an unconscious pattern. I had the power to choose and react differently.

What about you? Let’s do a small exercise. Grab a mirror, pen, and paper. Any mirror will do. Let go of your present thoughts. Open up and relax.

  • Take a good look at your face. Come closer. What do you see?
  • Look at the color of your eyes, hair, and lines in your face. Anything grabbing your attention?
  • Look at your face in the mirror with all your attention and ask yourself:
    • Do I really know myself? Do I know everything about myself?
    • Are there things I sometimes do or say which I have no control over and do not understand?
    • Why am I getting upset, defensive, sad, or frightened?

If you really know yourself, congratulations. How wonderful that is. You are probably a very powerful leader, experienced at looking who you are and transforming this into a way that perfectly works for you and your environment.

Most likely you have discovered that there are some unknown or unclear reactions. I invite you to do further investigation. My experience is that making contact with the unconscious part of our brain makes a difference. Using a diary, coaching, and self-development training worked well for me. Find out what works best for you.

Interested in this adventure? All it takes is the mind of a curious child. Be open, honest, and loving to yourself.


About Karen Zimmermann

I am inspired to support you in achieving what matters to you. I am inspired by the power of connection and leadership. Read more at
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