Personal growth, to a large extent, is limited to self-awareness. I can only change what I recognize. Self-awareness is not as simple as it seems. It requires several skills that have to be developed.
Here is a list of skills and virtues, which enhance someone's ability to be self-aware.
1. Honesty- until a person is willing to accept the truth about themselves, he will miss the mark as to where he should focus on changing himself.
2. Observation of others- awareness of oneself means that one needs to understand how the world is around him. If one is capable of seeing factors influencing other peoples’ behavior, he is much more likely to see it in himself as well.
3. Magnanimity- this is a very controversial virtue because it suggests that you have to recognize your greatness (as explained in Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle). If someone cannot recognize their strengths or admit them then they fall just as short in optimizing their self-awareness as the person unwilling to accept or even recognize his weaknesses.
4. Humility- it seems contradictory to place humility right after magnanimity. Because in a way magnanimity is perceived as arrogant. Where humility seems to be the opposite of arrogance. Because of this reason, humility and magnanimity require a more extensive explanation. Arrogance is over stating ones’ value, pusillanimity understates ones worth and magnanimity is a means between these two extremes. Which means that magnanimity states precisely one's virtue. It is more than that, however, it implies that one has to be “Great in Spirit, " where pusillanimous implies “Smallness of Spirit. " There isn't a real need to explaining this part of the virtue in the current context so I will leave it at that. So if pusillanimous means “smallness of spirit" and is an understatement of one's worth, then what is humility? Humility is the willingness to accept correction. It is the ability to perceive one's weakness and the willingness to change it.
5. Flexibility- flexibility's role in self-awareness is to have the ability to change one's life style to become in line with one's expectations.
6. Ambition- not everyone has the same level of expectations for themselves. Some people thrive on the idea of becoming the next US president while others would rather throw pottery in the mountains. Ambition is the motivating force to change. Even if someone had the other six factors of self-awareness, without ambitions to change than self-awareness is not easily accomplished because the other six principles rely on ambition to look at their master critically. Why would someone criticize himself if he didn't have expectations for something more?
7. Insight- this is the ability to see beyond the surface of self-observation. In someone's observation diagnosis they might find that they wake up 30 minutes later than they want to. Insight is the ability to discover why, how, and where the problems exist and what is needed to correct them.
These seven skills/virtues are not the only factors, which govern self-awareness. Certainly other factors play a roll. Friendships and mentors can help with ones ability to see them as they really are. Communication skills improve ones chance at improvement also. These skills and assets, however, are secondary to having the qualities on the list.
Seth Diviney writes for http://www.enrichr.com