397 | How to Become Self-Aware with Ken Keis

Are you self-aware? Self-awareness is your ability to see the real you and know where you are best…and where you aren’t. There are many elements to the journey of how to become self-aware. I interview Dr. Ken Keis, author, and speaker, about his work in the area of self-awareness. We talk about the challenges that get in the way of it and focus on how to become self-aware.

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Target Audience: Ken is the President and CEO of Consulting Resource Group International, Inc. He became the leader of Consulting Resource Group, an organization that has helped more than 1 million people in 50,000 organizations worldwide improve employee satisfaction and productivity. CRG has been acknowledged the 3rd best provider of Leadership Development and one of the top 10 train-the-trainer certifications globally by The Lead 500 Awards.


Ken Keis: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

This is leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett: Hi, my name is Gene Hammett. I’m the host of leaders in the trenches. My question for you today is how self-aware are you? What do you mean by that is how aware are you of your own limitations of your own shortcomings or your own strengths? The problem is we think we’re very aware of the reality. The gap between those who actually know their shortcomings and their strengths is very big. When I think about this for you, I want you to think about what would it be like? You really understood how you’re most comfortable with yourself when you’re doing the work that you’re most comfortable doing when you’re doing the work that engages all of you and it allows you to be your fullest potential. I don’t think that this is just something that’s nice to have in business today.

Gene Hammett: Self-awareness is one of the things Gary Vaynerchuk talks about is the most critical thing in business. If you don’t know who that is, you can hardly escape him in my circles, but he is everywhere. Showing people how to grow this. He’s got a business, it’s over $400 million and he’s growing phenomenally, and he talks about self-awareness is the key to his growth. Now, when I say this to you, I want you to think about how are you going to get self-awareness? Well, if you’re curious about that, today’s the episode for you because we’re going to talk about being a self-aware leader and that is going to be with a Dr. Ken Keis, Dr. Ken Keis as an author and he’s got a podcast called secrets of success with Dr. Ken Keis. Fancy name, but the guide that I want to introduce you to is someone who is been there with other leaders, has done this for himself, and was going to give you a chance to eliminate a little bit more about who you are so that you can be the leader that you were meant to be. So walk with me on this journey of visionary leadership with Dr. Ken Keis.

Gene Hammett: Hi Ken. How are you?

Ken Keis: I’m great, Gene.

Gene Hammett: Well, it’s good to have you here at leaders in the trenches.

Ken Keis: Well, it’s awesome to serve your audience.

Gene Hammett: Well. We’re excited to have you here. As always, I’ve already let them know a little bit about you, but I’d love for you to let them know about you as a leader and who you serve.

Ken Keis: Well, we serve other individuals who serve other individuals, so we help equip leaders and also professional developers, consultants, trainers, coaches with tools and resources to help other people to live, lead and work on purpose.

Gene Hammett: So we recently just recorded an interview for me on your podcast. So tell us a little bit about that podcast and why they should go listen to it.

Ken Keis: Well, that podcast is called secrets of success with Dr Ken Keis in really we started it. We wanted to have a place where we could bring people like yourself and by the way, you’re awesome on the show to share with people insights and strategies to improve their leadership, their health and wellness, really to develop the whole person because that’s one of our core belief systems here at CRG (Consulting Resource Group International, Inc) is the develop the whole person. You know, if my leadership is better but my health sucks. That’s not so good. If my health is good, but I’m a terrible leader, that’s not good either, so how can we develop the whole person and that’s what we try to cover in the podcast, which has now been going for four years.

Gene Hammett: Perfect. Well, You know when we were deciding what best to talk about this because there are many areas that which we could both have a great conversation.

Gene Hammett: You said something that really sparked inside me which was around self-awareness to set this up. If you’re Gary Vaynerchuk follower, he talks about the most important aspect to his business and what he’s doing is self-awareness. Now when he gets challenged about what that is, he’s like, I don’t know. I can’t really do anything with it because I just know that it’s important. Why is it so hard to understand what self-awareness is?

Ken Keis: Well, here’s the latest research. One of my colleagues, Dr. Tasha, who just did their scientific research, 95 percent of people watching this video believe that they are self-aware, meaning they their impressions, how people see them. They believe that they know that they know only actually 10 percent are correct, that he was ill or 80 percent of the population that has a huge gap between how they’re showing up in how they see themselves.

Ken Keis: And that’s the challenge is that our sort of perception of self is skewed. It’s not grounded and centered and in the reality that’s going on and it’s not wrong. Like I’m not trying to blame people have judged them, but that’s the reality is that 95 percent of the population who are self-aware or like most of them have an incorrect.

Gene Hammett: But I’m not familiar with the study. But before we go too far into this, let’s talk, you know, so we had a common understanding of what is self-awareness?

Ken Keis: Well for us, I believe that their self-awareness in different areas in our life. So there’s an internal but there’s also an external. So you know, one of my colleagues, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith talks about the reason that leaders aren’t successful is they’re not getting feedback. So there’s this internal self-awareness. Do I know myself? And that’s one of the areas we were, you know, we’re going to have a free gift for your viewers today on my quest for purpose.

Ken Keis: What do I know myself, which is one of the areas you work in, Gene. The other one is, so I know the people around me and do I know how I come across and how other people see me, and that’s where in leadership there’s a huge gap is that how I perceived myself within that environment and those are the ones that we primarily focus on.

Gene Hammett: So there is a lot of overlap in our work, which is good to have you here so that we can learn from each other. So thanks for having me on your podcast.

Ken Keis: You’re welcome.

Gene Hammett: When you think about self-awareness and you’re working with someone who understands there’s a gap. To me, they probably feel just unsure of themselves. They feel like, well, I thought I knew myself, but something happened. Something triggered. What are some of those triggers that allow people to really understand that maybe they’re not self-aware as they need to be?

Ken Keis: Well, of course, if you ask for feedback and people actually have a client meeting this week where one of the owners is going to be removed from the company because he won’t own his space, so we have. That’s a traumatic event, right Gene, where that happens or other people just. There are little clues in the. The challenge is are we willing to be authentic and real and vulnerable to what’s really going on for us and so there’ll be these triggers where I have. I remember working in an organization and they had a 100 percent turnover in the sales team and the owner said to me, I can’t get any salespeople and there’s nobody that’s good out there. And I say, you know, there’s only one person who has consistently involved with all of this and that’s you. And so there are clues as a leader, if I constantly have a turnover or there’s this tension at work, those are clues, but do we even look at it?

Ken Keis: But I want to say one thing, Gene around it. I don’t want to be blaming towards the individuals. The challenges. Most people have never been trained or developed or been given the skill set to succeed. They’re doing the best that they can, but they haven’t been equipped to win and that’s the work that you and I do.

Gene Hammett: What do you say to those that say, you know, this is kind of Nice and good, but we’re just here to get the job done. We need to sell more. We need to get more leads. We need to serve our customers. All that stuff is about the doing, not about the self-awareness stuff.

Ken Keis: Well, why wouldn’t you want to do it where it’s easier, get better results. I mean if you are forcing and we get in the situation where we’re just trying to force it, we just want to have this energy behind it, well, why wouldn’t I want to have the team and have ownership so that they have ownership in what is going on, which is what you’re teaching.

Ken Keis: What if I could do it in my work was really joyful and it had fun attached to it and yes, I want to still get the job done, but if you actually look at the numbers, if I have an engagement, if I have involvement, if I have ownership, I actually do better my growth numbers go up. So the idea that I can defend this kind of defiant high-tension workspace, there’s no evidence to really support that. You’re getting the highest level of productivity out of them.

Gene Hammett: Yeah. So it’s Kinda like you’re using an analogy. It’s like sailing in the wind or wind the wind.

Ken Keis: Absolutely.

Gene Hammett: How do I hear self-awareness? You’re going with the wind, right?

Ken Keis: And then there are some things. Part of the reason that people aren’t necessarily completely self-aware is that the question sometimes becomes an overwhelming gene. So one of the things we do, like we’ll have an assessment on personality.

Ken Keis: Everybody knows about that and so understanding your personal style, but we also have an assessment on your behavioral values. What does that mean? If I could make values-based decisions, but if I know that about myself, then I can also know what motivates other people. It’s so if I know that because a lot of times we transfer what we need and want to others, but that’s not necessarily the saying is that if I understand Eugene and what drives you that I can tap into what drives you, not just me?

Gene Hammett: Well, that I think that’s one of the keys to leadership is being self-aware for yourself allows you to understand that you can help others be self-aware for them.

Ken Keis: Or for sure. And then sometimes you know, there are some areas that we go into as business owners or leaders or as an individual thing. We really shouldn’t be there and so we get trapped or you talked about stock, I think in your business as far as trapped as a success, but we get trapped in this space and maybe we need to learn to say no to certain things. If I know myself well, what we teach is my ability to say no. It’s equally or greater importance than my ability to say yes and so if I’m not there if that’s my gift, that’s my talent, then why are you asking me to do it? Why am I burdensome? So on a given the example, we had an individual who was doing all the detail and the data and the organization, but hated data, so in why you’re doing it, so I’m good at it, but I hate it when nobody had even asked him that he hated it, so I’m good at it, but I hate it.

Ken Keis: Well, longterm, that person’s performance is going to go down. Your other gonna fire them or they’re going to quit, so maybe I need to realign them. How can I play to the best gifts and talents and abilities in the entire team within reason? I mean, life’s not perfect. I can’t do everything perfectly, but how can I play for the majority? We say, how can I play to your strengths? How do I complain to your natural capabilities and then develop the skills beside it?

Gene Hammett: I think a lot of the work that we do come from the questions that we ask and I’m curious, what questions would you ask of someone that is on the discovery for their own self-awareness?

Ken Keis: Well, one of the things I cover in the quest for purpose, I have an entire chapter, a series of questions, so life leaves clues, Gene.

Ken Keis: So I’m big into journaling. What are the things that really excite you? What? What is motivational life? What events in life or people have you been around that just has been energizing for you? Instead, we started trying to get you to move towards. Now, Anthony, Robin teaches, what do you want to move away from? So also what we want is also what we don’t want. So the here are these things where I hated this or I dislike that or that wasn’t engaging, so we can remove those things. Say, you know, that’s not an option to go down there. A lot of times in business people go into business to earn a lot of money, but it’s not fulfilling. And so we talked to her on our podcasts about does the business owner you or do you own the business? And we think about lifestyle and it’s really a place of service.

Ken Keis: So we can ask those questions. I’ll also ask you, what are you passionate about? What do you enjoy? What is the interest in our work? Compel or draw you? You love what you do right now. You don’t even have to work, right? That’s actually a lot of people though. I can’t believe Gene’s lovely. Nobody’s doing. Why do I love being in front of 2000 people and doing a presentation? I have no idea Gene, but I know that I do it. That is energizing for me. So everybody listening and watching this is that you have that same opportunity if you filter through it. And then there’s one other thing is that a lot of times we embrace directions or ideas or careers because of peer pressure or social pressure. And so we’re going down, Gene, you don’t want to start your own business, do you? That’s are you crazy? You got your vp of sales of this business. You, you start your own company, why would you ever want to do that? He lives no security in that and so a lot of times there’s this sort of external piece and so we want to hopefully stop the noise and not get or take advice from people who really haven’t been there or not living our lives.

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Gene Hammett: This whole journey of self-awareness, I think I never end because once you begin to understand yourself, you have to keep going and you have to keep looking for the new areas at which you are moving to. What are you letting go of? Would you agree to that?

Ken Keis: Absolutely, and if we’re not growing then we’re stagnant and that’s really not a recommended place to be. We’re kind of stuck and so it is. It is an active tense word. It is continuous. You know, they talk about continuous learning as the number one companies have a continuous learning environment or culture. Well, why is that? Because things are changing. Look at us. We got in this industry or I got in this industry when there wasn’t even the Internet, so what the heck? Now we’re doing a podcast via video that’s going to be on youtube and all these other platforms out there. This didn’t even exist when I got into the business. So this awareness of growing and adapting and being part of what’s new out there, that’s just. That is exhilarating, but also it is, as you say, continuous never stops.

Gene Hammett: One of the biggest struggles that companies have is there’s a certain set of companies that just don’t adapt well to change and I see this happening all the time and frankly it breaks my heart because those companies don’t hire me, but they really need to. I really focus on companies that want to change and want to embrace that. What do you do? You see that same thing as well within the companies you’re talking to?

Ken Keis: At one of my books, deliberate leadership, I actually have a chapter called readiness and willingness to change and it’s interesting those that really struggle. Think about what happened with Kodak and they said, well, somebody came in, by the way, the story is that somebody came in with a digital camera and the executives of Codex is, that’s never going, that’s never going to work. People aren’t going to want their want film forever. Now the film is coming back for different reasons, but again, they’re not necessarily ready to change and how technology’s moving. Things I think you know, you talked about in our podcast is how can I move out of this state of fear and say, can I move into this courageous spot? Can I move in this place to embrace and say, maybe I don’t like to change all of it. I know that sometimes it can be stressful, gene, overwhelming change too much at once, can just kind of explode a team, but can I embrace that and absolutely my encouragement of the people are watching. If you want to be here five years from now, 10 years from now, you’re going to have to embrace the concept of change. That is the one constant is that there is a change in it’s. It doesn’t matter what you’re going to say. It’s going to come

Gene Hammett: Now doing all the work that you do with companies and leaders, I would imagine that you have some exercises that you could do. I’d love you to think about one that you could kind of introduce us to. Maybe we can’t go to the depths of it, but something that you would do with a group or a team or an individual that would help illuminate what we’re talking about.

Ken Keis: Well, first of all, I mean, when we think about feedback, that’s number one. You know, one of my colleagues is Jim Kouzes who wrote the book the leadership challenge, and we talked about this on our podcast, is that most leaders who are failing are not reaching out for feedback. Gene, how am I doing? What is it that I could do better? We’re in my life, do I really excelled? Do you see, so and then, by the way, as a person receiving the feedback of this is the courageous part, this is the outdated part. I cannot judge your feedback. In other words, I can’t say, Gee, I’m not like that. No, no, no. You will simply say thank you. So how do you know? What am I doing well? What could I do better? Where do I excel? What situations do I do my best work? What situations bring out the worst in me? And if you were to coach me and say, what could I develop so I could be a better leader here at X, Y, Z, what would that be? And you need to stand in a space to be neutral so that they can fully share that without fear, without reprisal, with anything, and if you want to go and be courageous. Then asked some of those questions and received that feedback and then be open to consider some of this to go to the next level.

Gene Hammett: I want to step into this a little bit with you because you mentioned something about feedback and I know it’s important. I have certainly been around people who don’t think it’s important, but they do want to get defensive and you think about it even like with your wife or your husband or whatever it may be. If you’re listening in here if you’re defensive, does that ever go the way you want it to go? And my real point behind this is if you can do what you suggested again is stay grounded, accepted in, and just let it wash over you and think about it for a couple of days, as just that space in between before you even responded to it then. Thank you. Would you agree that that’s just, that’s the biggest thing that you could do with that feedback?

Ken Keis: Absolutely. I’m not saying it’s easy Gene. Sometimes people are traumatized by the feedback they get because of we. We’ve just never gone in this space before. We haven’t had the courage or we were even maybe fearful. So if I don’t ask then I don’t know about it. And so he absolutely is. By the way, sometimes people’s perceptions. You don’t have to receive it 100 percent. You say, thank you, I get it, but don’t be judging it. And a hundred percent correct. Gene is just stand in that space, stay neutral. If you get defensive, then you’re really not asking for feedback. You’re trying to judge it. You’re trying to filter it. We do a lot of. My partner does a lot of work in law enforcement training and there’s a thing called implicit bias, so all of us have our biases, right? What we have, our belief system, so we want to remove that as much as possible and be neutral territory.

Gene Hammett: I remember that I was talking to a coach one time and I was getting some feedback on a big decision I had and I remember distinctly at where I was just walking around in my backyard, kind of getting away from everything and he asked me this question like, why is that title important to you? I did not like that question. I was like, I deserved that title. Ideas, you know when I’m going to do this, I deserve this. I deserve that. And two days later, literally as I kept thinking through the conversation, because all he did was like, okay, you sit with that. And I remember just the self-awareness that it took for me to realize that I wanted to be recognized for that through the title and then I was able to let go of it because I realized that wasn’t the most important thing for me. And so you talking about this just brings me back to those moments where I have had to be self-aware of myself and I think that we’re never going to be in like, you don’t put a, you know, a date on the calendar, say at this date I will be completely self-aware because that’s just not possible.

Ken Keis: No, it is an onion. You’re peeling it back. You’re going deeper. And here’s the other thing, Gene, who we are now, we’re different people in 10 years ago, you know, I’ve been in this for 30 years. When I got in and I was here for 20 years, said, Oh yeah, well I’m, I’m kinda there. I am so much more aware and deeper and grounded and centered now. And then at my age, I’ve moved into this space where, yes, I want to share, but I don’t need your approval to do it. We’re a lot of times we’re so worried about what other people think or say about us that that’s what’s driving our behavior. And I said, well that’s, this is my life, it’s not your life. So this is where over time we are hopefully better people. That’s what you talked about earlier as consultants and trainers, we in many cases will outgrow our clients and so you move into another sort of client group because who have you become is not who you were serving.

Ken Keis: So it’s a past tense word and now you’re moving into this new level that. And hopefully, you are growing. So if I start as a consultant, that 1500 day I shouldn’t be moving to 5,000 or 10,000 or whatever the number is, not because of the money, but as a benchmark of my growth, a benchmark of my contribution, a benchmark of how I am serving. And hopefully, that’s the measurement that’s occurring.

Gene Hammett: Well, I know that you had mentioned when we talked about focusing on self-awareness that one of your books has something in there for them. The quest for purpose. Is that right?

Ken Keis: That’s correct. And so I’m going to give everybody that’s watching at a free copy of the ebook. They’ll go to this url. I’m sure you’ll put it in the show notes. It’s my speaker site, KenKeis.com/gene. I don’t know where we got that url from, so they go to that.

Ken Keis: You’ll be able to get a full copy download of my quest for purpose. I have all the exercises. I actually get people to create an autobiography of their life in all these different categories and I segment it so that you that it’s consumable. In other words, it’s not an overwhelming process. Now, interesting Gene. I went through this myself in 1988, 89 and I spent six months of really kind of transitioning just as you discovered this development space through circumstances. I did the same thing. I actually grew up and I had my own dairy farm. Hello. I’m in a little different space now from dairy farming doing this now. I always knew I was going to be a speaker, but in 1989 got into this business as a sales trainer and then have progressed and moved into this space now, so part of that was just taking the time, working on it. Not getting anxious about how long it’s going to take me to get clear, just you’re moving one step at a time. It’s not a problem. So it’s KenKeis.com/gene, and you’ll get a free copy of the quest for purpose of the book.

Gene Hammett: Well, make sure you spell my name with G-E-N-E so that you can get your free gift. And Ken, I really appreciate you being here to talk about self-awareness and really help us understand what is it, why it’s so important and give us some of these questions and exercises. It’s really been insightful for me as it took me back through some moments where I made some changes in those very important. So hopefully you’re listening in today. You can make those same changes. So thanks for being here Ken.

Ken Keis: Well thank you.

Gene Hammett: I love this interview because we got into a lot of things that I wasn’t prepared to share with you. I don’t have a script about these things, but I just had some realness come out where there have been moments where I’ve doubted myself and I wanted to share those with you and really make this special additional video.

Gene Hammett: If you’re listening in right now, I don’t have it all figured out, so if you think that I’m growing this business and have grown other businesses, that’s true, but I’m on a journey of self-discovery. I am still trying to figure it out, so if you have any questions about what you’re, I would love to help you. If you’re worried about what you’re doing next to make this work, I would ask you to look at that from a different perspective. Who are you being so that you understand yourself a little better and more intentional about who you are showing up as you’re trying to achieve your goals? Will the company grow people around you? Those are the most important things. If you want to have that conversation with me, make sure you reach out any of the social channels at Gene Hammett. I love to interact with you. Send me an email and I always shared the show lead with courage and I’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • How you are going to get Self-Awareness
  • A journey of Visionary Leadership
  • The aspect of a Business
  • Focusing on Self-Awareness
  • Elements to the Journey of to become Self-Aware



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