The idea that you can’t be anything you want to be is an idea that would shock almost every Millennial. And yet, the more we truly learn about ourselves, the more we realize how true that statement really is.

Self-awareness is something that is rarely talked about in the business world, especially with Millennials. However, I believe that developing an understanding of who we are, and how we’re wired is essential for making the best possible contribution to society and changing the world.

Why We Can’t Be Anything We Want

Self-awareness allows us to recognize what things we do best so we can then give our best in those aspects of our lives. It also helps us accept our weaknesses.

Here’s a fascinating take on self-awareness from Gary Vaynerchuk in his new book #AskGaryVee, “Modern parents are telling little Steve, ‘You can do anything you want!” Except Stevie sucks at basketball. They do the same for kids who want to be singers or engineers — or entrepreneurs. You’re not just always going to be able to do everything you want.”

Having self-awareness allows us to identify what we can uniquely contribute to the world and what we should say no to based on our weaknesses. Both are critical to our success. Both are essential for developing into the best possible versions of ourselves.

Two Simple Ways to Gain Greater Self-Awareness

So how do we improve our self-awareness? Here are two distinct ways we can begin:

1. Real, Honest Feedback

One of the easiest ways to become more self-aware is to ask people straight up to tell us our strengths and weaknesses. The people who know us best often see the things we can’t see for ourselves. Asking them for real, honest feedback about our strengths and weaknesses is one of the best ways to identify how we’re wired.

Having people who can help you identify what you’re good at and what you’re not is a gift. We should embrace people who are willing to be open and honest with us because they’re the ones who will help us improve most.

2. External Tools and Assessments

Another way we can become self-aware is to leverage new personality tools and assessments designed to help us identify our strengths and weaknesses. A few of my favorites include:

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Assessment — This resource helps you gain an accurate perspective on how well you know yourself and how you relate to others. The book also provides practical steps you can take to improve your emotional intelligence over time.
StrengthsFinder — This is one of the best tools for helping people identify their top strengths. Taking the version that ranks your strengths from top to bottom has been incredibly valuable for helping me identify the things I’m truly gifted at and the kind of work I should avoid.
Fascination Advantage Assessment — Rather than assessing how you see the world, this test provides insights on how this world sees you. This assessment enables you to lean on your strengths in any type of interaction with a coworker, client, or potential customer.

The moment we decide to accept your shortcomings and bet entirely on your strengths, things will change. Self-awareness might be undervalued now, but I believe that focusing on it today will pay huge dividends when we’re in our fifties, sixties, and seventies.

What are some things you’ve learned about yourself by focusing on becoming more self-aware? How has it shaped the way you work or interact with others?