In a time, culture, and economy, where there is so much emphasis on educational credentials, degrees, experience, training, and accreditation, not much thought is given to things like self-improvement and self-awareness. We only think that if we acquire another professional degree, learn a new skill, only then we would be able to break the income barrier. We are drawn to a business idea thinking it would give us freedom and make us rich quickly. But when it doesn’t happen, we end up getting disappointed and wondering where we went wrong and why. That’s why many of us end up quitting the entrepreneurial dream altogether, going back to a job, or start chasing another shiny ball, only to get disappointed all over again.
A lack of self-awareness is what creates a lack of success in life and in work both, whether you are doing a job or running a business (more so when you are doing the latter). Most of us don’t realize that self-awareness, self-improvement and personal and professional success go hand in hand. There is a greater need than ever to invest in your self-awareness rather than investing in yet another professional development course. Here is why:
Why You Need to be Self-Aware As an Entrepreneur?
When you are working for yourself, there is lesser variety in terms of thoughts, opinions and ideas. So, it is unusual for entrepreneurs to get stuck into a tunnel vision and falling into love and obsessing with their not- so-great ideas. There is also lesser accountability which means that you don’t have to answerable for your progress, or the lack of it, to anyone. Now this could be a seemingly good thing but it also means that there would be no concrete results or growth, as most entrepreneurs fall in the trap of quest or assumption of perfection.
This also means that you would be blind to your own shortcomings, weaknesses, deficiencies, fears, and biases and would let them run in the background and sabotage success. It is absolutely necessary to be aware of your weaknesses as much as your strength. Also, let me remind you that being unaware of your own thought process, emotions, and behavior can be toxic for your work, your business, and your relationships.
How Self-Awareness Ensures Entrepreneurial Growth
As entrepreneurs trying to survive in a competitive and recession-prone economy, having better self-awareness can help us sustain and even scale our business. Entrepreneurs who are self-aware are able to:
- Develop a strong and authentic personal brand.
- Evolve and expand the competencies of their business by capitalizing on their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.
- Get along better with their team, vendors and clients.
- Have a better control over their emotions and avoid showing kneejerk reactions.
- Respond to the competition, threats, and challenges in a better way.
- Recognize growth-oriented opportunities and capitalize them.
- Make better decisions.
Ways to Increase Your Self-Awareness as an Entrepreneur
Here is how you can gain greater self-awareness and use it to fuel the success of your service brand and business:
Be Aware of Your Soul’s Attributes and Evolve Your Business Accordingly
We pursue hobbies, relationships, professions on the basis of our education, skills, training, experience, and interest, but how many of us pursue things on the basis of our souls’ true calling and passion. How many of us can confidently say that we what we are doing in life is something what were meant to, destined to do? Not many. Most of us end up chasing the shiny ball because it seemed exciting, in vogue and profitable at that moment. But once the fad fades or we are not that successful in that venture as much as we wished and hoped to be, we are lost for direction as well as inspiration. And we are more likely to quit.
However, when you have a high level of self-awareness, you know what your special, divine, mystic gifts are and the ways in which they can benefit others. It can be a simple thing, such as the ability to listen to people without judgment and give them comfort and advice; expressing your love for food by cooking for others; taking care of someone else’s kids so that they can make ends meet. Any service the blueprint of
which is evolved on or around your passion, your soul attributes is not only unique but is bound to survive the good times as well as bad ones.
Understand Your Trigger Points
We all have excessive baggage that we love to carry around despite the weight. This baggage is called our past, our fears, our mistakes and regrets. This baggage can create trigger points. Trigger points can be things that make you feel passionate, excited, and positive and also those that make you feel anxious, sad, confused, angry, and negative. Most of us are already aware of the things that make us feel positive and proactive; however, we are not that aware of things that make us feel, act, and react in a negative way. For instance, a bad childhood, having negative childhood experiences, fear of intimacy, loneliness, abandonment, abuse, extreme poverty, neglect, broken relationships, trust issues, etc, might stem from our personal experiences but project themselves into our professional behavior, attitude, work relationships, alliances and partnerships.
They can stop us from trusting others, giving them space, hearing their ideas out and trusting them, delegating things effectively, and much more. We might mistake sincere feedback and advice as criticism, a joint venture as piggyback riding, others seeking of our advice or help as an attempt to cheat us out of our ideas and money, the premature ending of a venture as yet another betrayal, so on and so forth. In short, our negative trigger points can cause us undue stress; stop us from moving forward and making progress in our business.
Create an Inner Dialogue Instead of a Monologue Most of us end up living in our heads too much and not projecting these thoughts enough into efforts. We become obsessed with our own thoughts and fears and allow ourselves to be misled by a single-tracked, self-limiting thought until we are totally lost and far off from our intended path and destination. What we need to do is to have an inner dialogue with ourselves, a real heart-to-heart with ourselves from time to time. We need to ask ourselves hard-hitting and uneasy questions like,
- “Why did I react this way…”
- “Why am I feeling this why?”
- “What is stopping me from finishing this project?”
- “What would happen if I could take this different route?”
- “What am I really expecting from so and so partner or client?”
And more importantly,
- “What did I do wrong here?”
- “How can I make amends?”
- “What mistakes I need to avoid the next time?”
- “What did I learn from this experience?”
Being one own critic could be the hardest thing but most worthwhile because it would make you self-aware and also more empowered than your competition.
Create the Right Support Structure Around You Having the right support people around you can help you gain self-awareness and having the right system in place can help you carry forward your self-awareness. Even if you are a solo-preneur, you need to have people around in shape of family, peers, and most importantly mentors, so that you get critical feedback and unwavering support whenever there is a need. Your peers can make you aware of your blind spots, a mentor can help you identify your inner saboteurs, and your family and friends can provide unconditional support and help when needed.
Likewise, having the right system in form of a personal or virtual assistant or technology around you will help you keep yourself on track, boost your productivity by preventing energy drains. A personal and virtual assistant can be delegated additional work, can remind you of commitments and deadlines, and thus can help you become and stay self-aware about your commitments and responsibilities and stay on top of things. Likewise, the right technology can be a thing as simple as an online scheduler, an auto responder, an email marketing software, etc, and can help you get more done in less time. Something like a productivity tool or software can help you cut procrastination, maximize your inspiration and time and increase productivity.
Seek Conscious Self-Awareness Opportunities and Exercises Active and conscious self-creation needs conscious and consistent efforts, as it doesn’t come naturally. We do get epiphanies but they are few and far apart and you have to be really sensitive for that. Most of us need deliberate solitude as well as company to practice gain self-awareness. For instance, you need to take a break from time to time and go out and interact with nature in its purest form, practice self-awareness exercises like meditation and yoga to connect with your inner core.
Besides spending time alone, you also need to spend time in the right company and with the right mentors, so that they can not only help you in gaining awareness but also harness your insights and take them to the next lessons. Energy clearing and channeling retreats, emotional intelligence workshops and retreats are great avenues for this purpose. Also, no matter how promising or radical the training or therapy happens to be, it wouldn’t work unless you have self-awareness about what is holding you back and what can help you move forward. Self-awareness comes first, action later.