The roots of all successful action are based in critical self-awareness. I’ve learned this lesson over and over, conducting (yet another) mid-course correction because a program, project, or activity didn’t work. Standing in the middle of a car crash of an activity, it can be easy for me to blame all the external factors around me; however, I’ve never come across a successful solution that didn’t involve taking a long, hard look at myself. That position always gives me new insights that I can actually do something about?
This is true in my personal and professional lives. Looking at the (relatively few, wink, wink) times there have been messed up moments in my life at home or in relationships, there have been more than a few external factors I blame things on. The cat, old textbooks, ex-girlfriends, the mailman, bad hard drives, shoddy craftsmanship… There are a lot of things to blame my problems on! However, I can’t change those things- they have to change themselves. I can change me through self-examination, reflection, and supportive self-talk.
I believe this is the heart of Gandhi’s idiom, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi’s followers couldn’t compel the British Empire to change by words alone; they literally began making their own clothes in order to establish Indian self-reliance. They didn’t arrive at this type of radical self-ownership by blaming and finger-pointing. Instead, they took a long hard look at themselves.
In this same way, if we change ourselves we can change the world. The way to begin is through critical self-awareness.