Who Are You and What Do You Know?

January 12, 2023  • Aspen Global Leadership Network & Kalissa Hendrickson

“Know Thyself” is an ancient Greek aphorism often attributed to Socrates. As with so many maxims, the simplicity of the phrase disguises the often complicated yet always fruitful process of truly understanding who you are, what you value, and where you find your purpose.

At this point in your career, you have likely made it a priority to know your field, your organization, and your professional network. Perhaps you have made yourself known to others: you have earned a reputation as a problem solver, an innovative thinker, maybe even a leader. But if your quest for knowing has only privileged the external, then you are constraining your potential. Moreover, it is likely you will wake up one day and question if where you are in your career is actually where you want to be. 

Making the effort to consciously step back from the demands of daily life to check-in with yourself is a small act that will provide large benefits. Take time at the beginning of every year to ask yourself fundamental questions: ‘What drives me?’, ‘What is my place in the world?’, ‘Do my values align with the values of my organization?’, ‘Do my leadership choices express my principles?’, ‘Will the path I’m on take me where I want to go?’. This type of reflective process is at the core of all Leadership Seminars at the Aspen Institute. Leaders need to be equipped with the surety of self and the strength of their convictions in order to meet the myriad challenges of modern human life.

The imperative of self-exploration and self-knowledge is not an egocentric act. Leaders who have a sense of purpose and know what they value are better able to make difficult decisions and navigate their organizations through moments of change or crises. Most importantly, self-aware leaders are better equipped to inspire teams and motivate individuals under a united vision. No one wants to work for a company that cannot articulate its values and purpose, and the same goes for leaders inside that company. If you know what your organization’s purpose is, you will know if it is where you belong. If you know what your purpose is, you will know how to lead.

Combining self-knowledge with the desire to make a meaningful impact in your organization and in your life will allow you to chart your own unique path to success.

So, who are you? 

Written by: 

Kalissa Hendrickson 

Executive Leadership Seminars

The Executive Leadership Seminars team creates transformative experiences for leaders and teams through programs like Aspen Executive Seminar and custom programming. This work is rooted in the premise that the problems of most organizations are human problems, not technical problems. Learn more