Differentiating Awareness from Self-Awareness


In all the recent media, we hear the word “awareness” being used more and more to describe the key to success in modern entrepreneurship, but do we as a society truly understand what it means to be aware? Four years ago when we introduced the idea of awareness in the form of Third Circle Theory, a book that provides a clear roadmap to finding your purpose and passion in life through the lens of being more observant, we were way ahead of the curve in discussing awareness. The idea of awareness isn’t new per se, but its application or views on how to apply it are considered somewhat infant in the world of business.

I am going to break down for you a critical truth related to awareness that no one is talking about yet; the power of self-awareness. While everyone seems to categorize awareness as self-awareness, it truly isn’t. The difference between people who take action and those who are very capable but don’t take action is the power of differentiating awareness from self-awareness.

Here is the definition or difference of the two:

Awareness is being alert and conscious of your environment and as a result, understanding what is happening all around you. While enhanced awareness starts with the idea of being observant and allowing your eyes to really pay attention the majority of the time they are open, it is also fueled by the curiosity that follows such observations. The more aware someone becomes, the more capable they become in understanding new environments quickly. Understanding and acting in an environment are very different and become the difference between thinkers and doers, and consequently the difference between being aware and being self-aware.

Self-awareness is one’s ability to not only be conscious and alert in an environment, but also the ability to understand your purpose within it, and therefore allowing yourself to leverage the environment in your favor. When you are self-aware you become capable of manipulating environments to your favor, so those who have a high level of self-awareness typically end up taking more action than those who simply have awareness. In reality those with awareness often feel trapped or hopeless in an environment due to the fact that they realize what is happening around them, but simply do not know how to change it.

So to sum things up:

Awareness = Understanding your environment

Self-Awareness = Control of your environment

All of this would be pointless if we didn’t understand how to transition from being aware to becoming more self-aware. The way we discover self-awareness is by no longer being a spectator in our environment and instead interacting with it.  The more we experiment with this, the more likely we are to start getting answers as to how our environment can be controlled. I am going to break down two situations for you that will hopefully allow you to understanding how self-awareness can be created in society.

  1. When visiting a car dealership you may clearly understand how different segments of the dealership work, how salesman attempt to get information out of you, and even how pricing is set on cars; however, do you actually realize how to use all that information in your favor? The goal is to interact with various aspects of this environment in order to understand how it will react to you instead. By engaging in a conversation with a car dealer in multiple dealerships, you will start identifying patterns in what they say and why they say them and can now position what you say to ensure you get the reaction you seek out of them. You could discuss your income, for example, and see how one dealer responds to you telling them you are struggling and how another responds when you say you are financially independent and will pay cash for the car. By understanding reactions, you are able to carefully craft an environment very favorable to yourself even though others believe you are still playing their games and gimmicks.
  2. How you approach people of the opposite sex in different locations. Someone who is aware would assume their understanding of how bars, clubs, or social places work but are very unaware of how they are perceived by the other party they are analyzing. You may look at women at bars by themselves as desperate, but may not realize that they see you as sleazy, unconfident, and the reason why you need to be in a bar in the first place. The general public would normally say that you never meet anyone good in a bar environment; once again a point brought up by people who have awareness, not self-awareness. You can meet great people anywhere, so don’t lose hope just yet. By understanding how you are perceived in an environment before you even open your mouth, you can carefully craft an approach that will put the person at ease and allow them to chat with you, rather than turn you down. By only understanding how a location works, you are analyzing the person’s behavior with their environment; but not taking into account what their perspective of you in that same environment is which highly decreases your chances for success.

Becoming more self-aware requires practice and experimentation as it will require not just your actions, but also your environments’ reactions to you. The best way to transition from awareness to self-awareness is by testing out different scenarios in different environments until you can adapt to the patterns you see.