Business Productivity

Why self-awareness is your biggest secret weapon in business

- September 15, 2016 3 MIN READ

Gary Vaynerchuk is a big fan of self-awareness. Positive psychology and the science of success says that you should be too.

“I’m a big fan of going all in on your strengths and not giving a f*** about what you suck at.”

That’s Gary Vaynerchuk on self-awareness. He’s pretty upfront …

In his words, ‘the moment you decide to accept your shortcomings and bet entirely on your strengths, things will change.’

Easy for him to say. He’s a multi-millionaire, successful entrepreneur and online superstar. He’s not flying solo. He’s got teams of people to do his bidding.

But the mantra of self-awareness for business success is not just for the super successful and the big end of town.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses,  and why you think, feel and behave the way you do (i.e. having excellent self-awareness) has been shown to:

  • Improve relationships with others (customers, partners, collaborators)
  • Assist decision making
  • Increase efficiency
  • Enhance motivation

These are all things we solopreneurs can benefit from on a daily basis.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business productivity section.

Taking it a step further, positive psychology research has found that people who know and use their strengths:

  • Are happier
  • Are more confident
  • Have higher levels of self-esteem
  • Have higher levels of energy and vitality
  • Experience less stress
  • Are more resilient
  • Are more likely to achieve their goals
  • Perform better at work
  • Are more engaged at work
  • Are more effective at developing themselves and growing as individuals.

All pretty handy things when it comes to running a successful business right?!

So what is self-awareness?

Psychologists began studying self-awareness in a systematic way in 1972, when Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund suggested that by focusing our attention on ourselves, we get a better fix on what’s working for us and what’s not, at an individual and emotional level.

What does that mean?

It means that when we take the time to examine our thoughts, behaviour, preferences, style and drivers, we are better able to make objective decisions about what we do and why.

For solopreneurs that means:

  • Knowing which tasks give you energy and fulfil you and which don’t.
  • Knowing what drives you to manage your work and life in the way that you do.
  • Knowing why some tasks come naturally and others are a struggle.
  • Understanding your values as the drivers of your business behaviour.

Ultimately this gives you the power to hone your skills, concentrate on what fulfils you, make good decisions and increase your chances of business and personal success. On your terms.

So, how do you increase your self-awareness?

Self-awareness has been a passion of mine for many years and forms the basis of my coaching psychology practice and online courses. I’ve read and studied extensively on the topic and worked with many clients to improve and enhance their self-awareness (and my own). These are the steps that I use:

1. Discovery tests

Also known as psychological or psychometric tests, these give you objective feedback on the attributes required for self-awareness and success, including:

  • Your strengths – what gives you the energy to succeed?
  • Your values – what drives your behaviour and business decisions?
  • Your style of working – how do you like to operate?
  • Your interests – what do you love to do and why?

The best tests are those that have a scientific basis and require a thorough discussion or debrief with an expert to get the full benefit.

2. Self-reflection

Objective tests give you a framework for understanding yourself. The next step is conscious reflection. Try answering these questions.

  • What tasks or business activities gives you energy?
  • What do you not procrastinate over?
  • Which work activities would you choose to do before all others?
  • Which tasks seem to take forever and sap your energy?
  • What are the top three things you take into account when making a big business decision?

3. Ask others

Get into the habit of asking others for their thoughts and feedback on your work and behaviour. What do they think you’re good at? Where do they think you should focus your energy and attention? What would they say are your strengths?

Many of us underestimate our strengths and get bogged down in the day-to-day running of our businesses and doing what we feel we ‘should’ do rather than focusing our efforts on where we can really make a big impact and get maximum satisfaction from our work.

My challenge to you is to take the time to understand who you are, what drives you and what gives you energy. Compile a picture of who you are as a unique individual and this will inform your business decisions. It will allow you to accept your shortcomings and bet on your strengths and that, will lead to success. It’s worked for Gary Vee.