The Importance of Self-Awareness in Climate Change and Environmental Leadership
Self-Awareness is the first step towards building emotional intelligence. It refers to our ability to recognize our own emotions and how they affect us and others.
As a leader people always expect you to have all the answers, right? You might also expect this from yourself. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were being positively criticized, but rather than using this feedback to grow and improve yourself, you opted for creating excuses and not admitting to your mistakes? Well, that is a sign of a lack-of self-awareness. Great leadership starts with self-awareness! Great leaders are not afraid of admitting their mistakes because they understand that they will learn from them.
“The easiest person to deceive is one's own self” - Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton
Self-awareness is your personal knowledge of who you are, how you behave, your capabilities and characteristics. Developing self-awareness as a leader is often the first step to developing Emotional Intelligence, which has proven to be an extremely valuable leadership skill. Self-awareness can be extremely useful, especially in climate change and environmental leadership. The global population is still quite far removed from the reality of climate change and the global shift towards sustainability. As a climate change or environmental leader, your self-awareness about how your actions can negatively impact the environment can inspire the people around you to become self-aware as well.
Signs of Low Self-Awareness
The main challenge for people that are not self-aware, is that they are not aware of their lack of self-awareness. We’ll discuss a few signs of low self-awareness below. The first sign is not being able to admit to your mistakes! Being unwilling to admit your mistakes is a sign of deep insecurity and emotional immaturity. If you feel the need to constantly criticize other people to feel better about yourself, that means you are low in self-awareness. If you are constantly trying to feel good about yourself then you do not have the time to learn about yourself. Indecisiveness indicates a lack of self-awareness. Self-aware people tend to do a lot of psychological experimenting and they are confident in their knowledge of self, leading to them be confident in the decisions they make. Another sign of a lack of self-awareness is shutting people off when they have opposing views. Most people agree to disagree on politics and religion, but not wanting to listen to the other persons views may is a sign of low self-awareness.
Benefits of Practicing Self-Awareness
How to Improve your Self-Awareness
To become an effective advocate of the natural world, you must develop self-awareness about yourself and regarding your place in the ecosystem. Here are a few tips to improve your self-awareness:
1. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is about being aware of your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings. Mindfulness is allowing yourself to observe and acknowledge your negative thoughts and feelings, then come up with ways to deal with them.
2. Ask for Feedback from your Friends and Work Colleagues
A great way to help you become more self-aware, is to ask those around you about what they think of your character and skills. You might get surprising responses that will encourage introspection.
3. Try Journaling
Journaling is the act of writing down your thoughts and feelings to better comprehend them. Journaling encourages mindfulness and allows you to study yourself, increasing self-awareness.
4. Learn to recognize and name your emotions
Your emotional state influences your quality of work. Being able to recognize and name your emotions enables you to better understand yourself and know how to deal with your emotions.
The Self-Awareness Theory is based on the idea that you are not your thoughts, but the entity observing your thoughts; you are the thinker, separate and apart from your thoughts (Duval & Wicklund, 1972).
Long-term sustainable solutions to climate change and environmental degradation require commitment from all stakeholders involved. Leaders that will be able to address climate change and sustainability challenges need to take bold action and inspire others. There has never been a better time than now to cultivate self-awareness to become a better climate change leader and future custodian of South Africa’s natural heritage.
Environmental Youth for the Future!
How often do you put off work until the very last minute? Have you opened your laptop, trying to get some work done, but ended up being busy on your phone instead? Or that time you realized that you are 2 hours into your 15-minute break? Sound familiar? Then it is needless to say that you are a procrastinator. Welcome to the club!
“Everybody procrastinates but not everyone is a procrastinator” – Joseph Ferrari
What is procrastination? Well, procrastination is defined as the act of delaying a task or a series of tasks until the last minute. No matter how important the task at hand is, procrastination always seems to find a way to lurk in. Why do we procrastinate? We tend to have a fear of failing the tasks at hand, therefore we delay finishing them or starting them.
While procrastination can be harmless if not excessive, we also have to keep in mind that it can have serious consequences that will effect your future as a leader in the biodiversity sector. Procrastination can lead to poor performance academically or at work. For instance, take an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Specialist that is tasked with conducting an EIA for a project. Procrastinating the start or finalisation of that EIA would likely lead to poor performance and the EIA Specialist could also be tempted to copy and paste from previous EIA Reports due to the lack of time.
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” – Benjamin Franklin
Procrastination tends to promote negative feelings, it makes us lose precious time which may lead to us not achieving our goals or blowing precious opportunities. It may also affect your reputation, if you are constantly producing work that is not up to standard, your career suffers. Take for instance a Biodiversity Officer that produces a mediocre Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan for an organisation, how likely are they to be trusted with another major project? The negative impacts of procrastination can have career-changing impacts, but don’t you worry, we have some procrastination hacks that will help you deal with procrastination as part of your personal mastery for career success.
Procrastination Hack #1 – Set SMART Goals!
Setting goals allows you to have direction and an idea of your workload. Rather than knowing at the back of your mind that you have heaps of work to do, setting goals allows you to know exactly how much work you have and how to go about getting it done. It’s important to have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) Goals. “Complete the report” is a rather vague goal which is likely to lead to procrastination. “Write 500 words everyday from Monday to Friday, to complete the report by the end of the week” is smarter because it applies the principles of SMART goals.
Procrastination Hack #2 – Eat the Frog!
If your to-do list is an ocean of tasks, then it is time to prioritize! Rank your tasks on a scale of 1-10 based on importance. Start with the important tasks first! Have you ever heard of the phrase “eat the frog”? It is a simple method that requires you to do the most important task first, this enables you to use your best energy to complete the important task. (Here check out this book: “Eat the big frog first”. It will give this section some extra punch. 😊
Procrastination Hack #3 – Use Time-Management Techniques!
Managing your time effectively can help you feel more in charge of your work-load. Using time-management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique can help. This technique allows you to work with the time that you have, for instance 2 hours, you break it down into segments (perhaps of 20 minutes) separated by 5 minutes breaks, after four segments you may allow yourself to take a longer break.
Well there you have it! Some actionable procrastination hacks to help you achieve personal mastery for career success, enabling you to make an impact and leave your legacy within the biodiversity sector!
GreenMatter is a multi-stakeholder organisation that implements the National Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy for South Africa.