Do you know yourself?
I mean, really know yourself?
What do you do best? What are you passionate about? Where do you see injustice, inequality, inefficiency and where do you want to differ from the status quo? In what spheres can you identify a lack of integrity? What do you want to change?
I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review by Anthony Tjan that cites that the one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager and leader, is not necessarily being "innovative", "bold", or being a "risk-taker".
(What?! I thought we were all about innovation and creativity and all that jazz! What is it, then?!...)
As Tjan notes in his book Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck, the best thing leaders can do to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making, the basis of which requires Intellectual honesty, rigorous commitment and active truth-seeking. As he states, "...it is precisely THIS self-awareness that allows the best business-builders to walk the tightrope of leadership: projecting conviction while simultaneously remaining humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions."
(But, how could I not know myself---You may be asking---I've lived with myself since I've been around!... What do you mean, know thyself?)
Without digressing too far into philosophy, self-knowledge has long been considered THE highest form---in fact the very essence---of all knowledge. In fact, self-knowledge is consistently believed to be the largest universal challenge by many ancient Greek philosophers; since we're always changing, growing as human beings, self-knowledge is a quest that is virtually never-ending.
So if we're always changing, how might we know ourselves? As potential or already-actualized leaders, entrepreneurs, how might we become more self-aware in order to be more effective in our daily realities?
Tjan hands us three steps to attaining greater self-awareness, processes that should be continually undertaken as ever-changing, ever-evolving human beings:
1. Test and know yourself better. Use already-developed frameworks like the Myers-Briggs, Predictive Index and StrengthsFinder to facilitate self-reflection, which lead to better self-awareness. Or, take Tjan's developed Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test, which stacks up four key traits that drive business and entrepreneurial success: Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck.
Among a sample of 500 global entrepreneurs, about 50% were Heart-dominant, 25% Luck, 15% Guts and 10% Smarts.
Understanding which core trait drives your decisions and your attitude is important for increasing the probability for success (another question for yourself: how do you define success? What is it, for you? For society? Are they the same? In understanding this term we further guide ourselves to greater understandings of ourselves and how to make professional and personal life decisions).
2. Watch yourself and learn. "Whenever you make a decision ... write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the results with what you expected." Peter Drucker wrote this strategy in his article, Managing Oneself, calling it a self-reflection process feedback analysis and citing it as the only way to discover your strengths.
Many, including Warren Buffett, practice this habit. Buffett, for example, writes down the reasons behind each investment decision and later looks back to see what went right or wrong.
This practice forces one to focus on the what and also the WHY, and forces one to see truth and to accept failure when things do not turn out as expected. Otherwise, "backward rationalization", or the process of seeing failure and finding excuses for oneself, is all too easy to fall prey to. "Backward rationalization" is one of the major reasons why many do not progress in their self-awareness and personal development.
3. Be aware of others, too. Self-awareness is crucial when building a team. Knowing your natural strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of others, helps you to build an effective team of people who both understand and complement one another. The best teams are rarely made of similar types and are usually composed of a diversity of excellence.
Alas, here we finish with Tjan's trinity of self-awareness: know thyself, improve thyself, and complement thyself. As Tjan says, these common sense principles are not necessarily commonly followed because people don't always commit to stand in the face of truth.
As he puts it, "intellectual honesty, rigorous commitment and active truth-seeking are the basis of any self-awareness process."
Take the first steps, begin your self-reflection and see for yourself! www.hsgl.com.