Gain Self Awareness in 24 Hours

The practitioners of “emotionally intelligent leadership” agree that self-awareness is a cornerstone skill to develop.  I offer today’s experimental Reading for Leading with the intent of helping you raise your self awareness.

I have a question, then a challenge. I’m hoping that tomorrow (when I send you a link), at least 500 people will weigh-in with their answer to this question: “When you think about how many times you complain in a typical day, what would you guestimate your total to be? Please write that number down now, so you’ll remember it tomorrow.  Be honest (no one is looking :-)).

Now, for the challenge . . . 

Wait!  Before you read the challenge,  please, write down the number to make the experiment work.

Ok.  Here’s the challenge: Start now and go for 24 hours and just monitor your mouth (and your mind). Strive for a perfect 10 – all positivity, or more accurately, no vocal complaining.  When you’re inclined to complain, which is perfectly natural, see if you can catch yourself.  If you want to be a great social scientist with me, keep count of your inclinations to complain.  Then tomorrow I’ll send you a link to a 2-question survey. It will ask you what score you just wrote down (you did write it down, right? Please! It’s essential to get good data for us to share with all of us in the Reading for Leading world).

The survey will ask you that number, and – now that you have worked for 24 hours to be aware and to silence your complaints  – to again answer the question, “When you think about how many times you complain in a typical day, what would you guestimate your total to be?” Not how you actually did in these 24 hours, but whether, after that 24-hour experience you think the number you wrote down today was truly reflective, or whether you’d adjust it up, because you noticed more inclination to complain than you would have thought, or adjust it down if you realized that you were actually less inclined to complain than you thought.

The survey will, of course, be totally anonymous. All you need to do is write down 2 numbers.  I hope your spirit of adventurous inquiry is well in place. It’s good spirit, if you’re going to

Lead with your best self!






  • Your timing is perfect with this challenge. Lately, I was catching myself complaining waaaaaaay too much. I committed/pledged to minimize this for Lent. It is eye opening and hopefully life changing. …to be your best/better self, take this challenge!!

  • I laid in bed last night thinking about how often I complain out loud. I hope it is not as often as it probably is in reality. I also thought about stretching that idea of examining how often I complain just a little bit further. To those people who make me irritated, mad, angry, etc. Quite a few years ago, as a Lenten challenge, I prayed for and gave a gift to a former friend who had done something to hurt me. It totally changed how I felt about her. When I prayed for her, the anger left me. I have done this from time to time, not just during Lent, but to change my attitude toward those who I felt had harmed me in some way. Just like looking at those times that I complain out loud, by examining the thought before it comes out of my mouth, it changes me. Do I have to complain? Is it really worthy of my energy to complain? If I don’t complain right now, how can I re-route that energy into good? In the work environment, this is important to co-workers, to the students that I teach, to my supervisor, to the peers that I encounter on a daily or weekly basis. Thank you for bringing an important topic to your weeks’ agenda.

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