A Buffalo’s Journey Towards Self-Awareness

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Into the Storm

It has been said when cows east of the Rockies see a large storm coming over the mountains they will turn to the east and start running. This attempt to run from the challenge is, of course, futile and only ends up prolonging the discomfort as the storm is elongated. Conversely, when buffaloes in the eastern foothills see those same storms coming, they turn to the west and run directly into the storm.   

One of the ways for us to “turn and run towards the storm” is to consider skills, tasks, and other areas of self-improvement that many would normally not consider. Specifically, self-awareness.

Research shows that self-awareness is one of the most sought after and hardest traits to find in the business world.   

For the individual, the journey towards self-awareness can be daunting and downright scary. It is often tough to know how to wade into those waters. And, even if I knew how to I honestly might not like what I find. And yet, true self-awareness can be both liberating and exhilarating. In a state of self-awareness, an individual is able to begin to feel comfortable in their own skin, to understand what makes them uniquely them, and to create exceptional value for the people and things around them.

For an organization, a self-aware team member can be like gold. This blossoms from the fact that a self-aware individual understands what it is to lead and manage themselves. And the reality is, management and leadership of others begins with managing and leading oneself.  From there, others’ awareness, management and leadership becomes at least attainable. Leading others might still be a large mountain to scale, but at least for a self-aware leader the mountain is no longer completely shrouded in fog. 

The Journey Towards Self-Awareness

So, how do you get there? How do we as leaders and team members become self-aware? There is no magical answer, but I can offer what has worked for me. I believe growths in my levels of self-awareness have come through the presence of one or both of the following: 

  1. Data

    While not perfect, objective data has a way of providing clarity where an otherwise biased perspective often gets the final word. Data-oriented insights have a way of removing the masks and revealing the true self. For me, this revealing has sometimes been both scary and uncomfortable, but it has also allowed me to ultimately live freely and productively.

  2. People

    While people aren’t always trustworthy, I know my internal voice is not always trustworthy either. I am willing to risk the input of others because I know from experience that external voices have been crucial in growing self-awareness. From coaches and mentors, to short and random acquaintances; external perspectives have been instrumental in my ongoing journey towards ever evolving self-awareness. 

The meshing of “data” and “people” is why I believe the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment paired with intentional coaching can be an exceptional avenue for growing self-awareness, especially in the midst of storms. Proactively seeking data and focused voices feels to me like choosing to be a buffalo and not a cow as the storms roll over the mountains. 

This is why, at ADVISA, we have been Predictive Index partners for over 30 years. It is also why we take a high-touch, personal approach to everything we do. We serve before we sell.   

We do all these things because we have a mission of “changing the world one leader at a time.” In times like these, with what seem like perpetual storms rolling over the mountains, might a dose of self-awareness growth be how you develop into a leader who ultimately changes the world? 


To read another blog post by Leadership Consultant Brad Smith, check out this article.