Top Ten Tips on...

Self Management

16 October 2022
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
Handy tips on how to make the best of yourself, and identifying key skills to aid your personal effectiveness

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external & internal self

at work, we are two selves, an internal self and an external self. The external self is how we behave, how we interact with and to the outside world, including of course other people. So our external self is very much focused on behaviours, reactions, and responses externally to and with our world. It's that, that other people see, our external self. But there's also an internal self. The internal self is within us. And it's the way in which we feel about things. The way we think about things, the beliefs we have about ourselves and the rest of the world. Our drives desires, motives. Our emotions. And that's a very strong and often a dominant part of our selves. And our internal self drives our external self. And although the tendency is for our internal self to drive our external selves, there will be times professionally when it's not appropriate to let that happen. So we might feel angry. We might feel disrespectful. We might feel upset, but it may not always be professionally the wisest thing to behave angrily, to behave that way. So we need to exercise self-control. The other way in which it's difficult is to remember that our external self is what other people see. Also it might simply be a good idea to tell people rather than demonstrate it, to tell somebody that you're feeling angry or upset or confused, rather than behave in that way. A second key point here is to get in touch with your internal state more frequently, to understand what's going on. For many of us, we react without being conscious as to why we're reacting in that way. We don't give it any attention or thought. So a key self management skill really is to be more aware of how we are operating internally. And there’s one final point about the internal self, and that’s about our internal dialogue. We often listen unconsciously to the way we talk and think about ourselves, which can be very powerful, particularly if the self-dialogue is negative.


conscious and unconscious self

a lot of what we do is unconscious and in this respect, habits are important, because they are often unconscious. We don’t consciously choose them, we may not even be consciously aware of them. We often do things because we've programmed ourselves to do them to behave in that way. And we don't give it a second thought. A lot of our self is driven by our unconscious behaviors, our habits, and many of those habits can be helpful. They stops us having to think about what we're doing. And if we had to think about everything we do, we'd be exhausted and we'd make far more mistakes. But it's also worth pointing out that many of the things we do that perhaps aren't the best thing we could do for ourselves or for others are simply the result of habits of presumptions, ways of thinking, ways of behaving that we've just become used to, and don't give any further thought to. So the point here is about checking what you do unconsciously and seeing if you can bring it more to the conscious state.


take ownership

a lot of words that we use that have the word self in front of them. For example, self confidence, self motivation, self esteem, self discipline, the key word in each case is ‘self’. To be those things - confident, motivated, disciplined - it's down to you. There is no point in looking elsewhere or to anybody else to really provide those for you. They have to come from you. It has to be you. So self-management is crucially about ownership; on not becoming dependent or reliant on others. Don't rely on others to build your confidence, motivate you, or to give you high esteem. Really powerful self-managed individuals take ownership of all those self words.


become more self-aware

become more aware of things you do and why you do them. Two suggestions to help you with that are, firstly, ask people who you trust, to give you feedback, to see if you are doing something unconsciously that's not helpful - that they recognize is unhelpful and they could give you that feedback. So they help you raise your self-awareness. Secondly, watch other people for their reaction to your behaviour, to what you say or do, because their non-verbal language may give you an indication that what you're doing or saying isn't going down well, then that's feedback too, that you might want to reflect on and think, I wonder why they behaved in that way? Was it triggered by something I said or did?


develop strong self-control

some people, when given feedback about something they do that might be unhelpful, may say: “I agree, and, you know, you're not the first person to tell me that.” So the question is – w hy aren't they doing something about it? And that of course is self-control. So there's a nice relationship between self-awareness and self control. You can't control or change a behaviour if you're not aware of it, but equally, if you're aware of it, that's not enough - you have to do something about it.



be able to assess and credit your own worth. Give yourself a pat on the back. Be as fair to yourself as you would be to others, Whatever you find valuable in others, and give them credit for, then you should do the same for yourself. That's what is meant by self-validation. And if you are poor at self validation, but really like being validated, you become a little bit dependent on the validation of, and from others. And the danger there is that you distort your own behavior to seek that validation. So you become a bit of a validation junkie by always looking for other people to praise you. So you perhaps go out of your way and unnecessarily and unhelpfully to please others in the hope that that will trigger some praise. So be careful not to become dependent on validation, almost like a drug, by seeking it from others, because you're not good at giving it to yourself.


be personally effective

Is there a set of issues to do with how you regulate yourself in terms of personal effectiveness? Make sure you take responsibility for what you do. In particular, stop blaming time for not getting things done. You've got the time you need, if you make what needs to be done a priority. Blaming time is you letting go of ownership, taking responsibility for your priorities is taking ownership. So good. self-management is about being honest with yourself about what's down to you rather than blaming external circumstances or other people. And that applies to your internal state as well: stop blaming other people for how you feel. You own your feelings. If you blame others for how you feel, then they control how you feel. So decide, are you in control of your feelings, or is someone else?


work out your drivers

what motivates you? What gets you out of bed? what gets you going? What do you feel passionate about and what justifies who you are, what you do, and how you do it? because each of us will have a set of key drivers. Some of us are very conscious of these drivers, and for others, they're still part of their unconscious self.


decide your priorities

what are your priorities – in and out of work? and what do you do if you have several priorities and any of them conflict, they don't all move you in the same way or in the same direction?


consider your balance of other key pairings

here are some key pairings: 1) whose world do you prioritise: your own or others? 2) Do you live to work or do you work to live? What's your work life balance like? Or perhaps more accurately, how do you balance life in work and life outside of work? 3) do you prefer working on your own, or with others?. Are you a proactive person looking ahead, trying to anticipate and prevent things happening or reactive waiting for events to happen, which you can then get to grips with? 4) Would you say you were a risk taker or would you say you essentially cautious? Your answer to the above might simply depend on a number of factors – which is why it’s not black or white, but a question of balance, and of conscious choice, rather than an unconscious habit.

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