You know far less about yourself than you feel you do.

—Daniel Kahneman

Ultra-high performers (UHPs) are not perfect. In fact, they are far from perfect. They have the same issues, foibles, and hang-ups as everyone else. They have strengths and weaknesses, blind spots, biases, and unique communication styles that at times impede their ability to effectively deal with other people.

What sets ultra-high performers apart from average performers is that they are aware of their shortcomings and blind spots. They:

  • Accurately interpret their own emotions.
  • Acknowledge their emotional blind spots.
  • Are realistic about their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Understand their preferred communication style and how it impacts other people.
  • Have awareness of disruptive emotions and the negative impact these emotions have on their relationships and performance.

Of course, awareness is easier said than done, especially when it comes to our shortcomings, emotional blind spots, and weaknesses. Our image of who we are—how we interact with the world, how others view us, our values, and our judgments about other people—gets clouded at the subconscious level. Our mind plays tricks on us and hides reality behind a curtain.

Self-awareness combined with empathy is the key to situational awareness: knowing when to push and when to pull; when to ask questions and when to bridge to solutions; when to listen and when to talk; when to be patient and when to ask for what you want. Situational awareness ...

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