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Self-awareness is an essential skill for impactful and successful leadership. So how can a coffee mug help to build self-awareness?

This morning when I chose my coffee mug from our collection of 30 or so, I intentionally sought out the mug from Fika, a coffee shop on the North Shore of Minnesota.

I wanted the Fika mug because to me it represents comfort. It’s from a destination where we would go each year, back when we lived in MN, to disconnect, decompress, and breathe.

I needed that memory of sense and place this morning. We’re at the very tail end of our never-ending remodel, which has caused us to feel unsettled on a daily basis. We leave tomorrow for a vacation.

Today I need to feel grounded.

Some days I choose whatever coffee mug is in front. Some days my husband sets one out for me. Some days I put back the one he sets out and choose another.

It might be my Roy Kent mug (“Don’t you dare settle for fine!”) if I’m feeling motivated … or if I need some motivation.

Maybe it’s the “not a morning person” mug when I’m trying to find levity in a morning call.

Whenever I make an intentional choice in a coffee mug, I take a moment to recognize what’s going on in my life and the emotions that are driving my decision.

It’s a little coffee-driven exercise in self-awareness.

So why does self-awareness matter in leadership?

Because self-awareness is directly tied to your leadership impact.

Understanding your emotions (emotional intelligence) gives you the opportunity to explore how those emotions impact your decision-making, stress tolerance, and relationships – how you show up as a leader on a daily basis.

And how you show up as a leader impacts your leadership success.

But as a coaching client who is working on emotional self-awareness recently said to me, “It’s exhausting to keep track of your emotions.”

My response was that it absolutely can be, yet it gets easier with practice and time. It’s a muscle you build.

Little practices like noticing why you make a certain choice in something seemingly benign – what’s driving your decision, what the circumstances are, and how you’re feeling – can be a great place to start to build that muscle.

And sometimes all it takes is a coffee mug.

What’s on your coffee mug (literally or figuratively) today?


PS – If you’re looking to enhance your leadership impact, let’s talk about how coaching with an emotional intelligence focus can help you step into your full leadership potential.


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