Today, I’ve got a sweet lesson on developing self-awareness.

Did you know there are two types of self-awareness, so you have double the chance of being wrong.

Double ouch.

There’s internal self-awareness, which covers how well we see our own values, virtues, interests, and fit into our environment.

There’s external self-awareness, which covers how (accurately) we assess how others see us.

If you are among those 10-15% of people who are internally self-aware, yeah! You generally have high job and relationship satisfaction.

(I guess that’s why most people don’t actually like their jobs. Ha ha.)

If you are externally self-aware, yeah! You are generally high in empathy and perspective.

Here’s another kicker. You can be neither, one, or both types of self-aware.

To thrive in your career, and entire life for that matter, I believe you need to be both internally and externally in tune.


Today, whether you’re a book clubber or not, I’d like to share some key thoughts on building self-awareness.

To me, an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-a-pound-of-cure kinda guy, there are six key success factors.

When these factors are dialed in properly, they’ll enable you to live a lifestyle that leads to self-awareness in all its forms.

Here a quick list of those factors and some items to reflect on:

1. Personal Protocols. It’s helpful to start with how we will be—as in be-have. Our overall behavior in life is governed by our personal values. Everyone has these in some form. Corporations have them too (cultural values, guiding principles, etc.).

Consider this: People who have protocols and follow them tend to live more fulfilled lives and tend to manage stress well. Their reminders and frequent check-ins with themselves help ensure their decisions coincide with their values. Conversely, people who lack self-awareness tend to make decisions inconsistent with their protocols (e.g., the money is so good, I’ll just take the job.)

2. Loves, Passions, Interests. To be consistent in our behavior, it helps—substantially—if we’re spending a great deal of our time in areas we love. The bulk of our life tends to be spent in our careers, family activities, and hobbies. Life gets a lot easier when your interests fit into, if not become the major part of, the areas where you spend the bulk of your time.

Consider this: The person who lacks self-awareness generally spends too much time on aspects of their life they don’t truly enjoy—because of how it looks to others! This detracts them from being consistent with who they are and what they want out of life.

3. Goals. I wrote in Out of Reach but in Sight: Using Goals to Achieve Your Impossible, “A goal is nothing more than a vehicle to enhance your enjoyment of something you love. The actual attainment of the goal is far less important than the positive impact working toward that goal has on your life.” Put together your goals and collect them as a transformation list, not a checklist. The pursuit, which facilitates your transformation on your way to achieving a mega goal, is far more important than collecting checkmarks for easily-attainable goals.

Consider this: A self-aware person knows what drives them and tends to choose goals that align with who they are. They also have a firm grasp of their capabilities and put themselves in positions to take advantage of their strengths. This is why self-aware people tend to accomplish very high goals. Conversely, people who are not self-aware tend to put themselves in environments not conducive or aligned to their personal protocols and often don’t achieve their goals.

4. Operating Environment. Adding in the right operating environment substantially enables you to remain in sync between your behaviors and your values. Your “operating environment” is a collection of the conditions, people, physical spaces, and everything that goes along with your ability to function. It’s a figurative “space” that always surrounds you.

Consider this: The self-aware person is rarely stressed by their—daily—surroundings. The person who lacks self-awareness oftentimes finds themselves feeling uneasy in their environment. These environments can range from the big and frequent such as work and home to the small and infrequent such as a dinner party.

5. Thoughts. We have developed automatic thoughts over time thanks to our upbringing, biases, where we’ve lived, who we surround(ed) ourselves with, and anything else that goes along with conditioning the way we think. Are the thoughts we have consistent with who we naturally are? Or, have we developed them in a manner that is incongruent with our natural state?

Consider this: Self-aware people tend to put specific checkpoints into place to examine their thoughts. I use a simple three-step formula to ensure I don’t go into autopilot when it comes to my thoughts. Inside my leadership program, I go into much more detail on these concepts. If you want a free view, check out my video on YouTube called How to Control Your Thoughts and Build Self Confidence.

6. Behaviors. While I consider thoughts more of an internal factor, I think behavior coincides more with what you show the rest of the world. Thoughts are, of course, the thinking part. Behaviors are the doing or saying part. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know one of my favorite Today’s Lines to Live By® is “Think. Say. Do. You will never be more at peace than when all three of those are the same.”

Consider this: Self-aware people tend to put specific checkpoints into place to examine their behaviors. People who lack self-awareness typically fly by the seat of their pants. A great example of a checkpoint I use to examine myself is whenever I conduct a live group or individual coaching session. I watch the replay and examine my responses to individuals. Of course, I evaluate the guidance I provided but, as importantly, I also review whether I was empathetic and able to effectively project (i.e., perspective) what it might be like to be that person.

If you enjoyed these points and want to learn more about becoming self-aware, become a member of my Zebra Book Club!

In addition to the live coaching (or replay if you become a book clubber), you can get the full-blown video lesson on self-awareness from my leadership vault.

But, wait, There’s more free stuff.

I’ll also give you the sweet, 5000-word booklet I created that accompanies this lesson. Just another little gift for you!

All you need to do, if you’re not already, is become a member of my Zebra Book Club.

Two simple steps:

  1. Pre-order your copy of my book The Zebra Code at Amazon (Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Simon & Schuster) or wherever books are sold.
  2. Head to The Zebra Club Book Club page and drop your name, email, and book order number in the form. Easy peasy.

When you join you get:

  • Skill Development Booklet and Career Plan ($97 Value)!
  • 6 Video Lessons and Workbooks ($294 Value)!
  • 5 Group Coaching Sessions! ($245 Value)!
  • Weekly, Monday challenges via community posts and emails!
  • Private community to work with me and the other members!

It’s awesome and we’re having a ton of fun. Hope you can join us!



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Andrew LaCivita, a globally-renowned career and leadership coach, is the founder of the milewalk Academy®. During the course of his distinguished career, he has impacted over 350 companies and more than 100,000 individuals, spanning nearly 200 countries, helping them unlock their full potential. As an award-winning author with three books to his credit, he first gained international recognition with his groundbreaking work, Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired. He further revolutionized the world of recruiting and hiring with his publication, The Hiring Prophecies: Psychology behind Recruiting Successful Employees. Both of these seminal works, along with his celebrated vlog, Tips for Work and Life®, consistently earn top spots on career-best-of lists. Andrew remains actively engaged across various social media platforms and generously shares his expertise through his weekly Live Office Hours on YouTube every Thursday.