Eat your Broccoli – Seek Self-awareness
So, for those of you who like to get right to the point, this is the conclusion of this post in a simile… self-awareness is to navigating the future as broccoli is to eating for wellness. And for those of you who enjoy the story and the process, read on :-). Navigating the future is a timeless pursuit, but feels more present in our consciousness as we go through the unusual circumstances brought on by the current pandemic.
Self-awareness is to navigating the future as broccoli is to eating for wellness
Let’s start with why broccoli. I am fascinated by learning more and understanding the science behind wellness and nutrition. I have grown to be a big fan and proponent of “food is medicine” as I’ve navigated my own health and wellness. When you begin to tune into this area of science, there is an overwhelming amount of information, inclusive of countless theories and recommendations often at total odds with the others. Eat this, don’t eat that. Veganism is the only way. Meat is essential. Eat certain things before you exercise, others after. Consider intermittent fasting (not eating at all!). And so much more. However, the one thing that I’ve found to be universal is this – Broccolli. Whether the guru is espousing Paleo, or Ketogenic, or Calorie Restriction, or Veganism, or Vegetarianism, or whatever ever else – the one thing they all agree on? You got it. It is both ok and even beneficial to eat broccoli to your heart’s desire.
So I began thinking about navigating the future as both a human and a professional. I wanted to identify what is the one thing that could be universally agreed upon by gurus across the spectrum of coaches, psychologists, mentors, leadership experts, and so on. Since focus is key during times of transition – what is it that is as indisputable as broccoli is to healthy eating and wellness. Full disclosure here, no data, no testing in the statistically credible way was conducted. I have, however, read extensively and with an intention to read a diverse collection of perspectives and viewpoints to reach the following conclusions.
In the end, for me, this conclusion came from a process of elimination of some pathways that were often espoused as being IT. All of which had merit, but did not meet the tough criteria shared through my broccoli simile.
Determination is NOT broccoli.
This one was particularly hard for me. I have long relied on sheer determination to get me from Point A to Point B – sometimes it was helpful and other times, not so much – I missed things along the way with such a singular focus. Don’t get me wrong here. There is value in applying a strong will and determination to get from Point A to Point B. That said, however, there is plenty of advice from those trained in the psychology of trauma and change to suggest that sometimes we need to just be patient with ourselves and sit with the challenges we face vs driving ahead to get through them. So determination did not meet the “broccoli test” as universally good.
Character, generally speaking, is NOT broccoli.
I considered the important role that one’s character plays in how they approach the world, who they respond to fear and uncertainty, and how they ultimately either become a positive force for the world or a negative one. And while I have found ones’ character to be one of the strongest factors in predicting how and how well someone will positively influence others, there is not a one size fits all set of character attributes. Character is more nuanced than broccoli. The thing about one’s character is that it can and should be deployed in different ways and intensities depending upon the situational context. Character definitely matters, of course – I have even pursued certification in and utilize a number of character assessment instruments to help myself and my clients navigate the exploration of their own strengths and opportunities. This video from Tilt 365 Founder, Pam Boney, gives you some insight into the many nuances of character.
Happiness is NOT broccoli.
While there is a lot of information espousing how we should move joyfully through navigating the future to get to the other side. There is so much more to consider. Happiness, at least in my view, is just not enough. Happiness implies we can be content with the disparities this pandemic has exposed. I rather prefer the concepts of ‘building back to better’ that are described here. Building back to better requires we are not complacent or ‘happily’ satisfied as we navigate forward.
So what earns the esteemed status of broccoli?
After much reading and challenging myself to conclude something, I was able to come up with one thing. This one thing, at the essence, is at the core of the numerous recommendations from credible sources on what we must do to navigate the future. The one thing? Self-awareness. Self-awareness is to success at navigating our uncertain futures as broccoli is to wellness. Self-awareness starts with a very honest, but not judgemental, introspection about oneself. It starts by looking in the mirror (I write more about that here). Self-awareness is not judging, but accepting what we see right now and then building the plan to make the changes we want to see.
And yes, some of those changes may be greater happiness and acceptance. Some of those changes may be a commitment to being more focused and determined. Some of those changes may even take into account a comprehensive accounting of how we show up for others in good and challenging times. But at the very least, we start with a commitment to grow our self-awareness.
Self-awareness is about looking inside ourselves and finding clarity.
Doing the work to honestly explore and find the essence of what we value and find important.
Eat your broccoli. Start a journey to self-awareness.
Want to get started with this work? Now might be the best time ever to do so.
Find your unique path to navigating the future through greater clarity and self-awareness.