Know Yourself, Really Well

I often joke by saying that in business class, we’re taught to identify the value proposition of a company – its unique selling proposition (or USP). I often wonder why that necessity is not applicable to the human level – people spend their entire livelihood understanding the things around them and take little or no time to understand themselves.

Here’s what Gary Vaynerchuk (a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of VaynerMedia) has to say about self-awareness: “I would create one pill that would allow people to become more self-aware. It requires understanding both your strengths or weaknesses and then choosing which path you want to go through. I’m all about going in on all your strengths and accepting all your shortcomings.”

Why is this important, and practical advice?

Consider this; you’re an extroverted person, someone who’s very outgoing, sociable, and loves talking to/connecting with people. You’re also great at sales and your personality/capabilities lean more on the creative scale, so you’re naturally more fluid in thought. If you live in a time where it’s sexy to be a software developer, or the collective convinces you that it’s a high paying job, should you make the pivot? It’s my opinion, that such a person will have much more of a difficult time succeeding in this kind of role, in the long-term (because that’s what happens, typically, when someone does something they’re naturally unfit for).

I’m not saying this to place limits on one’s capacity, quite the opposite – I’m merely highlighting an example to make the point that it might be more effective to identify ones super power and leverage it to maximize their potential. That’s how one not only succeeds, but lives a life doing something they’re happy with / passionate about.

How To Achieve Self Awareness (some suggestions):

  1. Reflect and get to know yourself better – for me, I find activities like; meditation, exercise, talking to and learning from people, travelling, helpful in this pursuit. Different things work for different people, the point is to find something that puts you in your ‘zen’ or state of awareness and contemplation and try to get to the core of who you are.
  2. Ask your family & friends what they think about you – get them to list the top 5 things they like about you, and 5 things they think you can improve on.
  3. Test things out! – try the things you’ve been putting off, tick off some of your bucket list items, work in jobs that embody your strongest characteristics, talk to and learn from people who are already doing the things you’re interested in etc.
  4. Read books and learn from others – I enjoy reading the autobiographies of people I admire, as well as mind-provoking books, like The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, The Alchemist, When Breath Becomes Air, 12 Rules To Life, are examples.
  5. Take a personality test – they’re not 100% accurate, I know, but they’re interesting to do and can help provide you with some generalities regarding your personality, people who are somewhat similar (will typically give examples of celebrities, politicians, businesspeople) and also highlight jobs that would be a good fit.

There’s no real framework on how to go about this, ultimately you’ll find your own way. The point of this article is to spark the thought and encourage action.