The Most Enviable Title of All

One of the many formative leadership lessons we teach our students here at St. Francis is the importance of “self-awareness”. But, what does it mean to be “self-aware”?

The meaning is fairly simple, self-awareness is a conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

However, actually being self-aware is difficult. French novelist and philosopher André Malraux, wrote, “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” And, there is much truth and instruction in this pithy statement.

We are all guilty of not wanting to confront those wicked thoughts that cross our minds or those dark schemes upon which we dwell — feelings of pride, greed, lust, bitterness, or envy.

We keep these hidden away and since we do not “act” them out we pretend we are still “good people” and so much better than those that do. But we are lying to ourselves.

As Malraux pointed out, it is these hidden sins that define our hearts and are often at the root of our words and actions no matter how we much we dress them up to be presentable.

In teaching our students to be fully self-aware of their motives – both good and bad – and admitting to those, we are teaching them to honest with themselves.

 By being honest with themselves they are much more capable of being honest with others which is core to leadership, as attested to by one of the greatest leaders in history:

 “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” George Washington

And, to earn this most enviable title, one must first start by being self-aware or honest with himself or herself.