Self-awareness versus reality?

HorseHeard associate Zara Myers explores the benefit in developing our self-awareness.

Are you able to talk about your strengths or weaknesses and which way does the balance sway?  Is the inclination towards your weaknesses rather than your strengths or vice versa?  How many people do you know that would accept the challenge of being told they are underachieving and would have the emotional resilience to do something about it? The ability to assess yourself is a refined skill that takes time to develop. The earlier individuals can develop this self-awareness skill the more accurate it becomes.

Why is this skill important? When people place themselves in a role where their perceived strengths do not meet expectations, then the skill to truly evaluate their abilities is vital for their future development and growth. Have you ever tried to coach someone who doesn’t believe they need coaching? There is an important step to make before any coaching or training can take place, the student or employee must first accept that their skill and knowledge does not match expectation for the job in hand. When I have interviewed in my business it seems more and more people in that imposing first interview, walk in with perception that they are already very good at what they do and will not require any further development.

As a business owner I have found few people who do not require Continue Personal Development Training. I believe failure to offer CPD invites stagnation in both your business and your team. As an employer in the tourism industry alongside my other role as a HorseHeard facilitator, I have come across several interesting and highlighting moments when trying to employ school leavers for the first time. As someone dedicated to training and development, my ethos is to provide support and coaching to all employees when they start the role. However, as time moves forward and staff come and go, it appears the school leavers who are looking to their start their career are becoming less and less trainable.

Where does this phenomenon begin? In children’s developmental years, they are curious about the world and are keen to learn, using their parents and people in authority as their encyclopaedias. They tend to believe their word is gospel. As they start to grow, they recognise that they can have opinions and thoughts too, and these are then voiced and tested in the world to see how others react; experimenting and building a framework for what they believe and value. But what happens if they give too much value to the potential echo chamber of opinion that is social media and peer groups. Facebook and their online friends can become the only source of information and self-affirmation they pay attention to. The consistent message across these platforms is often “you are wonderful, don’t let anyone tell you different”.

As a wonderful person, why would they need to look anywhere else? It helps them feel confident and powerful. Now they realise they need a job, so they secure an interview. Almost inevitably, at some point they will be turned down for a role. That is the reality of the modern job market. The internal response to this setback can go one of two ways. They come to a mature realisation that their understanding of the professional world is limited, and through experience and self-development they can improve their chances of a successful interview at the next attempt.
Alternatively, they can believe that the person turning them down is an idiot who doesn’t know what they’ve passed up, or there is some sort of hypocrisy in play, self-affirming their belief that they are an indescribable talent just waiting to be discovered. How I manage such employees in my business has been developed from my work facilitating with the Charity ‘HorseHeard’

When ‘HorseHeard’, works with young people, they use horses to give honest and unbiased feedback to students of how they present themselves to the outside world. How does a horse do that you may ask? Horses live in complex social herds; their survival is dependent on immediate recognition of body language and their emotional state of others. This form of communication allows them to instantly anticipate the action to be taken.  When we place a human into the equation, horses can instantly assess, if you are a leader or follower, brave or fearful, friend or foe, despite what your worldly facade portrays.

This revelation as to your true self often shakes people to the core. The skill of the ‘Horse Heard’ Facilitators is to relay the interaction back to the candidate allowing the candidate to reflect on how their personal state affected the response from the horse.  As an example, a disinterested non-engaged student is often shocked when the horse instantly reflects their disinterested behaviour and ceases to engage with them altogether. The student realises they must make a conscience choice to change their emotional state to re-engage the horse.

This experiential learning returns them to the period of learning when children develop resilience, value sets and beliefs. If attempting to facilitate such change in any other way i.e. Lectures, classroom delivery, it can take months or years of repetitive work to achieve actual habitual change.  Horses have a unique talent for aligning self-perception to reality.

This is not a distance learning programme, hence there are regular FREE Taster sessions run by ‘Horse Heard’ across the country. If you are interested, go to our events page on the website to find out more.

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