Self Awareness: The Key to Improving
Thousands of books have been written about how to scale a business, product market fit, building teams, dealing with clients, hiring people, managing people yet most fail to tell you a hidden secret that would change the way you do everything you do in your business. As with anything this hidden secret, is not so secret, its something that has been said through the ages by some of the most respected people of our time from Peter Drucker to Dali Llama.
Why is it that we don’t talk about self awareness often? And why is it so key?
When you think of someone going to write a book or give business advice that someone will pay for you probably would agree that they shouldn’t pitch something that will take time, this is the unfortunate side effect of today’s world where we need everything instantly. This secret though isn’t something that can be taken care of right away.
It’s going to be hard, its going to be scary, and its going to take you time to get into the habit of doing it. However if you can overcome all that I can tell you that it will change every aspect of your life and enhance all the other great advice everyone gives you.
SO WHATS THE SECRET?
It’s really actually quite simple: Self-awareness.
At this point I know most people, and I certainly did this the first time I heard this, say yes-yes I have heard of it I do some of that meditation stuff and I am pretty self-aware, people say I pay attention to detail.
Thats why you need this more than anyone else.
Why self-awareness? Because unless someone else is building your company you are the center, the hub, and the point at which everything pivots. That means the more you are self-aware the better the rungs you build, the teams you build and the processes you choose will make – or break – your company.
Over the years I learned something interesting, that I could read many books and learn many techniques but what really made them effective or not is how I did the work. When we read about why people became successful or how they did what they did we just chuck it to a framework, write a book and we figure we copy it and it will work.
What makes it work for one person vs. another is really all about how well that person knows themselves, and if you know yourself then there is less change for ego.
This is the trick – we often get stuck in our own way.
ALRIGHT, BUT WHERE DO I START?
I was asked recently if I could recommend one business book what would it be and without hesitation I recommended only one book: Peter Druckers Managing Oneself. Now why this book?
While meditation is something pretty important in my view, more on that later, this is a great book that is practical to start with because most people have no idea how to manage themselves, and if you can’t do that how can you manage someone else?
This book will cover some great basics: the way you work, your strengths, your performance and most importantly you will get to learn what your not good at.
Now why is this successful to building a great company. Simple. The more you know what you are good at and what you are not you can then build a great team, find the right tools and processes to fit your needs to grow the company.
It is amazing to meet people who try to follow processes but they don’t work with their personality. They hire people who clash with them and think this is good for them, or they get into a business that doesn’t support the way they work.
Here are a few things I recommend learning about your self:
– When are you most productive during the day?
– How do you work? Late starter? Early riser?
– Who do you work best with?
– What can’t you do?
– What are you good at?
A mentor once taught me that you are better off investing in your own strength than trying to make a weak one stronger – its a sunk investment.
DO THE WORK
After you figure out some of the basics of you – the next step is to actually do the work. What areas are you going to focus on? And what does a plan look like to enhance them? How do you need to build a team? And which process is the right one for the way you work.
This so far sounds pretty simple, thats the problem. We are entrepreneurs we can conquer anything, we can take on big industries, big companies and change the world — and unfortunately, or fortunately, this is also our weakness. The weakness is that we think if its too simple we can skip it, we can do it tomorrow, we can avoid it, the work not need be done now.
Except the fact that most people never get around to this. When you talk to super successful CEO’s you will find they work a lot on who they are. They have coaches, they read self-help books, they make an inventory of their strengths, they build around themselves and they stick to the plan.
It is simple. It just needs to be done – and there in lies the rub.
WHATS THE HYPE WITH MEDITATION?
While I won’t go into full depth about why meditation but what I will share is this. You need to do it. The reason is simple, forget about everything you know on meditation. The one simple thing about meditation that it does is it creates a gap. Yes a gap. A gap where your mind can be free. A gap where you can see things from a different perspective.
Meditation allows you to create the space – gap – you need in order to be self-aware. It lets you spend time reflecting. It lets you see things from a place you never did. The objective of meditation is NOT to silence the mind, but rather to WATCH the mind.
This is why so many powerful CEO’s swear by this technique, when you can watch something you can change it.
WHERE DO I GET STARTED?
The biggest challenge with this advice is people don’t know where to start. This is where a mentor or a coach comes in handy. Just because you run a billion dollar company doesn’t mean you can’t have a mentor. Every successful person I know has one. If you don’t, get one, find someone you look up to and/or get a coach.
Your friends, employees and loved ones are also great at giving you a different perspective on you.
Once you have all that info its time to go to work – pick only one thing to work on, the one thing that will have the biggest impact and take courses, read books, and find out why and how you do it. Once you do that you will know how to change it.
Once you start to do this, one change a day, 365 a year you will begin to notice a change. Subtle at first but compounded over time. What will change?
The way people talk to you.
Your employees relate to you better
Your process will improve.
Your product will change.
Your customers will be deeper connected to you.
You will be more successful.