Sam Radford

October 29, 2021

The superficial self-awareness movement

What is your biggest weakness?

I was thinking about this classic interview question today. And we all know the kinds of responses it generates:

“Sometimes I’m too committed for my own good.”

“I’m a perfectionist.”

“I work too hard.”

But have you noticed how no one says:

“I’m insecure and claim other team member’s ideas as my own to feel better about myself.”


“I’m disorganised.”

In other words, we answer superficially. We project strength under the guise of weakness.

I was thinking about this in the context of the growing self-awareness movement. Many of us are learning the language of self-awareness. We are learning to say all manner of self-aware sounding things. But I’m not convinced there’s an awful lot of actual self-awareness taking place!

True self-awareness cannot be captured in an Instagram quote. It’s not an opportunity to convey strength and growth via phoney vulnerability.

Also, self-awareness is nothing new. It’s been practiced by the mystics for centuries. And here’s the thing: it’s painful! Self-awareness allows us to see ourselves as we truly are. Most of us aren’t ready for that! It’s a journey too; we peel back more layers day by day, week by week, year by year. I know I still have a long way to go on my own journey!

But how many of us are committed to that life-long expedition of true self-discovery about ourselves? Warts and all? There is freedom to be found on this pathway, but it’s not a jolly affair. There’s a weightiness and depth to walking this road. 

My concern is that many of us have settled for a superficial version of self-awareness. It allows us to impress upon others – and perhaps even ourselves – the idea that we’re self-aware, but it doesn’t ever get to the real – and hard! – work of self-awareness.


Got some thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you – do hit reply or drop me a note.

@samradford |

About Sam Radford

Husband, father, lover of books, writer, tech geek, sports fan, and pragmatic idealist from Sheffield, England.