How to Mature from “Unaware and Self-Absorbed” to “Aware Selflessness” 

By Rob Shaul

Okay, you admit you can be Unaware and Self-Absorbed and want to change.

“Aware Selflessness” is the goal. You’re strategically and tactically aware of the situation and ready to selflessly take the initiatve to act if needed. 

 This change takes intentional effort and time. Here are the steps. 

1. Skillful Observation

Start with skillful observation of the situations around you. The choice for “skillful” here is deliberate – this is a skill which can be practiced and learned. 

  • Self-awareness: Recognizing your natural tendancy towards self-absorption is the first step. We naturally think of ourselves first and acknowleding this allows you to look for it and course correct when needed. 
  • Active listening: Truly listen to others and pay attention to their perspectives, feelings, and needs. The aim is to understand and anticipate. To actively listen you can’t be preoccupied – and must be fully present in the moment.
  • Curiosity: Be curious. Look for what is interesting, surprising, and actionable. Set aside assumptions and judgement. 
  • Practice: Like any skill, “Skillful Observation” improves with practice. It’s hard to observe when you’re the one talking – so start there. 
2. Astute Awareness

Skillful Observation provides the ingredients, but not the meal. Astute Awareness is the heightened level of perceptiveness, insight, and understanding which goes beyond noticing details and involves the ability to interpret and analyze information effectively. Often what isn’t said or done is as important as what is said. The goal is to anticipate what will be needed.

3. Reflection

Reflection after astute awareness is needed analyze information and improve decision-making. 

Key here is to question your assumptions, and once satisfied you’re seeing the situation as it is and have identified action to take, considering the alternatives – including not doing anything. 

4. Anticipation/Foresight

Okay – you’re aware and have questioned your assmptions. Now to know what to do you must predict the future based on past experiences, current observations, and contextual understanding. This means anticipation and foresign. Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • Anticipation: Anticipation involves foreseeing or expecting future events or developments based on patterns, trends, or cues observed in the present. It’s the ability to recognize potential opportunities, challenges, or risks before they fully manifest. Anticipation often requires intuition, critical thinking, and a deep understanding of the factors influencing a situation. Individuals who excel in anticipation are proactive, prepared, and able to take timely action to capitalize on opportunities or mitigate potential threats.
  • Foresight: Foresight is similar to anticipation but often involves a more deliberate and systematic approach to future planning and decision-making. Foresight requires strategic thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to extrapolate insights from present conditions to inform future strategies.

Together, anticipation and foresight enable individuals to better navigate complex environments, make informed decisions, and position themselves or their organizations for success in the face of uncertainty.

5. Egoless Adaptive Initiative

Egoless Adaptive Initiative is to taking proactive and flexible action without letting personal pride or rigidity get in the way. Here’s a closer look at each component:

  • Egoless Initiative: Egoless initiative involves being willing to take action without seeking personal recognition or validation. It means putting the collective goals or needs of the team or organization above individual ego or status and doing what needs to be done, whether it’s your job or not. Egoless initiative demands humility and willingness humble, to take on any task, regardless of its perceived importance or visibility, if it contributes to the mission’s success.
  • Adaptive Initiative: Flexible and resourceful in responding to dynamic and unpredictable situations as needed. Being able to adjust one’s approach, tactics, or strategies based on changing circumstances, feedback, or new information.
6. Evaluation

Were your observations and your judgements of them correct? Did you correctly anticipate what would be needed, and act? Did it work out? 

7. Learning and Continuous Improvement

If it worked out bank the experience as a tool to deploy in the future. If it didn’t, deep dive and identify what and where you got it wrong try to ascertain how it happened. Find the fix and have it ready for next time.

8. Improvement, not Perfection

Like all traits of Quiet Professionalism, the path to Aware Selflessness is often one of two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes despite best intentions you’ll be a self-absorbed prick and pay the price. Others you’ll misread the situation and you’re best-intentioned initiative will fail or fall flat.

There are no shortcuts. Just. Keep. Grinding.

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