Self-Awareness and Success

By | October 24, 2021

[October 24, 2021]  For the past several weeks, I’ve put extra emphasis on the importance of character in leadership. Today’s article is no exception.  But I would like to take a different twist and discuss how crucial self-awareness is for personal growth and success with others.

Leadership today involves navigating some of the most difficult situations without any signpost markers along the way, telling us which way is best.  That means a leader must be, by definition, resilient, tough-minded, and inner-directed.  But more than anything else, a leader must have the self-awareness to “see” solutions to life’s obstacles.

“Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, and spirituality is not narcissism. ‘Know thyself is not a narcissistic pursuit.” – Marianne Williamson, American author and spiritual leader

There’s an old story that in the 1960s when U.S. President Ronald Reagan spotted a bedraggled hippie protester with a sign saying “Make love, not war,” he quipped that from the looks of them, they weren’t capable of doing much of either.  Reagan, like all great leaders, was fully self-aware.

Self-awareness, not to be confused with consciousness, means that a person has the intellect to recognize, without bias or judgment, that he (or she) evaluates and compares one’s behavior with societal standards and values. This is why here at, I write so often about values and their impact on our standards of behavior.

In the study of psychology, self-awareness has been called “arguably the most fundamental issue in psychology.” 1  But that is for academicians to worry about.  For those of us who study leadership, the critical issue is whether we can look inward into our inner selves, clearly see our strengths and weaknesses, and promptly make improvements that make us better leaders.

A good leader can do this, and doing so is not an easy task, nor is it often pleasant to do.  Most shy away from self-awareness because what they see in themselves is not pretty.  Good leadership, however, requires it.




Please read my newest book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

13 thoughts on “Self-Awareness and Success

  1. Anya B.

    Self-awareness is something we should all strive for. And, to have self-awareness that is accurate, it means having folks around you that are willing to tell you the truth and you believe them. Then make changes to improve yourself. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time. That is why trust is such an important human trait.

  2. José Luis Rodriguez

    Good morning, I would like to add to this discussion by noting that if you don’t have any self-awareness, then you are in need of some serious help. Why is that? Well, most of the reason is that reality has never had a real impact on you, so you can chose to ignore reality without penalty. However, that will catch up to you someday. The results will be ugly.

    1. Pooch T.

      Good morning, as well, to you Jose. We call those people narcissists. Good name for a psyche problem.

      1. Randy Goodman

        Yep, got that. Has anyone ever noticed that dogs are never narcissistic? Well the reason is that they won’t survive with that trait. Interesting, isn’t it?

  3. catorenasci

    Gen. Satterfield, another spot-on article. Self-awareness is key to developing your weaknesses. Our president Joe Biden appears to have ZERO self-awareness. Folks, read the Daily Favorites on how China sees Joe Biden, that will tell you a lot.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      Old warrior, you certainly have my vote. 👍👍👍👍👍

    2. rjsmithers

      Resisting tyrannical impulses of humans is a common positive trait of good, moral leaders. As Max noted below, you will be put up and examined in gross detail. Don’t let the tyrants scare you. They are like the bullies in the school yard, dumb and scaredy-cats.

  4. Max Foster

    Yes, Gen. Satterfield has made a series out of the importance of one’s character. And, without saying it out loud (the FBI and CIA and other govt agencies) are listening in and want to arrest you for opposing Joe Biden or anyone in his administration. So easy to move from a democracy to tyranny when many folks don’t resist.


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