Self-Aware: A Guide for Success in Work and Life

“I hadn’t really stopped to think about how my own interests and work-style would fit into my future career. I was caught up in attending recruitment sessions from Fortune 500 companies or whatever companies I thought carried prestige, with little regard for the type of work I was actually interested in…
“Our first topic in Dr. Rob’s class was about self-awareness… [I discovered that] I preferred creative work, often in more of a startup setting. After Dr. Rob’s class, I accepted an analyst position at…a boutique strategy-consulting startup…It never would have occurred to me to pursue a position at such a small company before the class, which would have been a shame because I thoroughly enjoy my work here and couldn’t for the life of me picture doing HR at a large company.
-a student

About the name of this Book

In over 45 years as a practicing psychologist, social entrepreneur, and professor, I have learned that emotional intelligence is the key to success in work and in life. I also know that becoming more self-aware is the key to developing strong emotional intelligence.

I have taught, coached, and counseled people on how to become more self-aware and how to develop their social-emotional competencies. Both activities lead to higher emotional intelligence.

This book presents the best practices developed and delivered in my teaching and in my psychology practice. Some of the stories and exercises in this book came from my previous book Balanced Leadership in Unbalanced Times (2009). I published some of the stories and exercises as articles on my blog at Please visit as I will continue to write there.

I wrote the book because not everyone who needs this information is here at the University of Michigan to take my class. While it’s nice to have a teacher and coach to help you through the process, you can learn a lot by yourself through reading this book and working on its exercises.

If you follow the process, you’ll end up with a self-made vision for success, in both work and life in general. Furthermore, you will learn to set goals and develop the support that will enable you to make your dreams come true.

Genesis of this Book

Three years ago I had the opportunity to teach a course to seniors at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business on the topic of Managing Professional Relationships in the Workplace. As I developed the curriculum, I focused on the importance of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills as keys to success in work. Over the past three years, I’ve continued to teach the course at Ross. Then, the Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan College of Engineering approached me to teach a similar course to graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and I gladly accepted the challenge.

I hear from my students that they are interested in exploring a more holistic perspective on their lives. They’re interested in taking control of their time and lives as they pursue a happy and healthy lifestyle. They tell me they are not just interested in doing well in their careers, but they want to achieve well-being in their lives and to make their world a better place.

In response to my students’ deep need, I developed the class as a process where my students look deeply at themselves to reflect upon who they are and what they want from their lives. It is not merely a self-reflective process. They also are encouraged to share and interact with others weekly.

Through the thirteen weeks of the course, my students go through a series of exercises that take them on a path of self-discovery toward improved emotional intelligence. They work individually and they also participate in small collaborative groups.

They also interview young and successful business leaders about their lives and careers.

At the end of class, each student creates a personal development plan with a five-year vision of what they want to achieve. In addition to career success, my students are asked to describe what they hope to achieve in other important aspects of their life, including relationships, health and well-being, and community service. The final project is to present this plan to the class and to get feedback and help from their classmates about how to achieve their goals.

This book is designed to take the reader through a similar process that my students go through in our class. By reading and doing the exercises, you will:

  • Gain a better sense of self-awareness.
  • Develop your emotional intelligence competency.
  • Craft a personal vision for success in career and life.
  • Set goals to help you achieve a good life.
  • Learn how to achieve these goals.
  • Plan how to create a team to help you in the pursuit of your goals.

Target Audience

I have based the material on two courses I teach at the University of Michigan on the topic of interpersonal relationships and career planning. One class is for college seniors and the other is offered to graduate students in the STEM fields.

While the process I describe in this book may be applied by everyone who is contemplating career or school choices, this particular book is designed for college students and people early in their career.

Warning! This Book Could Change Your Life!

From a student:

“Before being a part of this class, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do and which career path I wanted to embark on.

“However, after hearing some of the guest speakers and through immense self-reflection, I found that my passions lay elsewhere and I needed to develop a new plan of action.

“I have always been passionate about fashion, yet I always thought that I did not have what it takes to be successful in this industry. Hearing from guest speakers has inspired me and given me the courage to follow my passion and embrace the risk.”

-Sydney Tucker

If you are not ready to make significant changes in your life, my advice is not to read this book. Keep this book in a safe space for another day. My students often report that through the processes in this workbook, they have switched from one career path to another.

Here are my warnings:

  • Do not read this book if you do not want to seriously reexamine your career path.
  • Do not read this book if you are unwilling to confront ways in which you are neglecting your well-being.
  • Do not read this book if you are not willing to talk to other people about yourself.
  • Do not read this book if you are uncomfortable aligning your mission and values with your life choices.

Be brave.

“I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed.”

-Rubeus Hagrid, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

To Order Your Copy Today

I will be doing the marketing for this book primarily through social media and Amazon reviews. I would appreciate it if you find the book beneficial, to please post a review on the Amazon site or to mention it in a social media comment. Thank you for your continuing support. It means so much to me.

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