„Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom, “- Aristotle.
Knowing yourself means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and fears, your desires and your dreams. It means being aware of your likes and dislikes, and your tolerances and limitations.
Knowing yourself means knowing your purpose in life
Self-discovery should be nr 1 on the list of obligatory subjects at the school’s curriculum. When you get to know yourself and gain insight into who you are, the rest is easy. Depending on where in the world we have been born, the tools of self-discovery are different.
Ways to discover your identity are culturally conditioned. In western cultures, European and North American countries, the scientific approach is preferred. Psychometric tests, psychological tests, intelligence test are preferred.
In India, one refers to ancient practices such as yoga and Ayurveda, seeing sources of knowledge in nature and access to a wider stream of consciousness. We get to know each other by silencing the mind, meditation and various techniques that purify the soul and body, and discipline.
In Maori culture, descendants of Polynesian clans from the islands of the Eastern Pacific Ocean (including Tahiti), the tool of cognition is the reference to the place from which one comes, to the memory of the ancestors, the memory of the earth. By studying history and talking to the elders of the family, we find out who we are. When we experience life’s hardships, we go outside, look into the starry sky and ask our ancestors for the strength and wisdom we need to resolve the situation we are struggling with.
In the United States, where social status is acquired not inherited, work is the source of self-knowledge. Exposing yourself, your potential for the opportunity to experience the world through work, travel and social interaction, will certainly give us a better insight.
This is just one of the ways alongside studying, reading, psychotherapy and many alternative therapies that have roots in Eastern cultures.
Today’s societies offer us wide spectrum of tools. Even living in monoculture Poland, we can explore ourselves through traveling, meditating, regressive therapy sessions, hypnosis, Eastern martial arts practice, studying, undergoing therapy, or even watching TEDx speeches or academic lectures from the world’s most prestigious universities.
Personally, I am an advocate of cultural and historical theory authored by the Russian researcher of developmental psychology, Leo Vygotsky. It says that cognitive development takes place in a sociocultural context, and children’s skills develop through social interactions with parents, teachers and other influential people in their environment.
We become ourselves thanks to others. Leo Vygotsky
The environment has a powerful influence on how we behave, in what interactions we participate, and what follows, what character traits we shape. People living in different places and willingly duplicating the expatriation experience and are becoming more and more tolerant, open to people and the world. It is a valuable element of intercultural competence.
By sending employees to a contract to a foreign branch of the company, the board should take into account one important skill: intercultural competence.
One should examine the level of openness to new experiences, empathy, cultural awareness, curiosity about a different country and people. Without such verification, the decision to delegate even the best employee may be a costly mistake.
Imagine that we are sending to India a specialist for the development of projects that previously worked in Switzerland and worked well. In Switzerland, where great importance is attached to punctuality and a task-oriented approach to work, a given person could be perfectly tested, but it does not mean that it will have an understanding of the culture of India, which is highly relational and the approach to time is completely different. Without understanding the environment and the rules that prevail in it, we have no chance to use our hard skills and we are completely useless.
5 RECOMMENDED TOOLS OF SELF-DISCOVERY
The practice of yoga is more than just physical exercise, it is a path of development based on the 8 pillars described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. The 8 pillars are: commandments about what to do, what to do and what not (Yamas and Niyamas), Asanas – external forms that help in self-control and body harmonization, Pranayama – breath practice, Pratjahara – practice to control the senses, Dharana – concentration, Dhyana – meditation, a state resulting from prolonged concentration, and Samadhi – a condition for contemplation.
2.Meyers-Briggs Personality Questionnaire
It is an extended concept of Carl Gustav Jung, who observed that people have specific preferences regarding their energy management and “charging the battery”, the way information is gathered and decisions made. In this way, he identified eight personality types. Isabel Briggs Myers and her daughter Katherine Cook Briggs developed Jung’s idea of the hierarchy of particular preferences in each type of personality and added a dimension describing the attitude towards the outside world. The MBTI test is a popular tool widely used in the United States for the recruitment of senior management. It has been gaining popularity in Poland for several years.
3.Travel and immersion in various environments
Travel forces us to leave our own comfort zone, interact with other people, communicate with them, find ourselves and function in an unknown environment full of question marks. We build strength and learn about ourselves by dealing with challenges, solving problems during the journey. In the face of specific situations, we must act at once, travels thus expose us and our personality.
4. International work experience.
Travel experience combined with work is invaluable. It shapes the moral backbone and character. It teaches tolerance, openness, gives a wider perspective of seeing the world. Thanks to working in an international environment, we see ourselves in a different light, we are always the ambassador of our country, even if we do not want to.
5. Learning from others around you.
“We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle our inner spirit.”
We learn and benefit from the experience of others by listening to podcasts, interviews, TEDx speeches and participating in mentoring programs or coaching sessions.
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