The Tyranny of Self-Knowledge

Phrases that set off my coaching radar:

“I’m the type of person who…”

“I’ve always been someone who…”

“That’s just the way I do things.”

Once someone has drawn that conclusion about himself/herself, the doors of possibility are getting closed, and his/her potential paths forward are being limited.

The distinction I’d make here is between knowledge and awareness. We treat knowledge as fixed and unchangeable. If I know I’m an introvert, then I predict that I will need to go to great lengths for the rest of my life to hoard my energy. If I am aware of my energy level, though, I’m able to react in the moment and do what I need, regardless of whether I know my MBTI type, or enneagram type, or what my boss said on my last performance evaluation. (Of course, I still am a fan of all three – MBTI, enneagram, and performance evals!)

Rather than draw conclusions about who we are and how we act, I work with my clients to heighten their awareness: their awareness of what they are feeling, what they are choosing, and what is important to them in the near-term, the short-term, and the long-term.

Let’s not be so quick to decide who we are. Let’s keep the doors open. What self-knowledge do you have that you’d like to let go of? What limiting beliefs are you hanging on to?



  1. […] Posted in Words and Language by Laura on April 28, 2010 I posted last year about the Tyranny of Self-Knowledge: the more we know about ourselves, the less room we leave for possibilities and discovery. But who […]