How well do you know yourself? I have done lots of self-help exploration, therapy and coaching, and I am amazed that I can still discover things I don’t know about myself. For example, I’m at the beach with my mother. I just happened to schedule our trip on the week of the East Coast Surfing Championship. So, there are surfers everywhere! It’s been such fun to watch the surfing, see the surfers hauling their boards to and from the water, cramming boards into elevators, and riding bikes with boards in their arms.
As I’ve observed the surfers I’ve noticed similarities among surfers, and have become fascinated with deciphering the “type” of person who is drawn to surfing. What I’ve seen so far is that males dominate the sport. Most are young, slender, physically fit (great bodies!), medium height, and they have great balance and persistence. This is a sport dominated by young, athletic, focused, independent men who are not deterred by being knocked down by waves. They keep getting back up over and over again, perfecting their technique. Surfers are not quitters. They fall. They get back up. I wonder how this translates into the rest of their lives. What effect does that level of commitment to their sport have in their personal and professional lives?
Today as I gazed at surfers from my hotel window, it occurred to me that my fascination with surfers is not an isolated event. There have been other times when I’ve gotten a “type” of person in my sights and have watched them with the curiosity of a detective. I’ve been aware that I love watching people, observing their behavior, and trying to make sense of it. But today I learned that though I love watching people, what really floats my boat is looking for patterns, similarities among people committed to the same type of endeavor. What’s the profile of a surfer, a dancer, a doctor, an entertainer? What do members of the type have in common physically, mentally, emotionally and in their values?
Being a curious observer is who I am. It probably initially germinated from my need for safety, for the shy little girl that I was to make sense of her world and be able to predict how others would behave. Now that behavior reflects my commitment to the value of respect. I respect others for who they are, and enjoy observing them living their lives and their passions.
Why is this little piece of self-knowledge important? The more I know about myself, my values and needs, the more equipped I am to make good decisions on my behalf. With self-knowledge I can be clear when it’s in my best interest to say no to a request for my time. I can make good decisions in my personal life and about the direction of my business. I can make good choices about where to put my energy and with whom to socialize. Self-knowledge makes creating a life that fits possible.
Watch yourself today. What lights your fire? What blows out the flame? Make increasing your self-knowledge your new commitment, and you’ll be better able to design the life you really want to have.