How is it that some people never really advance in life? On the job, or off the job improvements seem to allude them. No promotions. No weight lost. Audition after audition that never amount to getting a place in the band or a spot on the team. They keep trying, but continue to come up empty handed. But why? Growing up we were taught to stay focused, work hard, and to never give up. We’re doing all those things now, but still…
The secret sauce to success differs slightly for each person. However, after years of working with some incredibly talented and successful people, and observing traits that are common amongst them all, I’ve found the one ingredient that stands out and changes the game. This ingredient cannot stand on its own to ensure success. It can’t take the place of hard work, discipline, focus, and the other necessary traits that most successful people seem to possess. However I have seen many talented people who seem to have all the right characteristics but simply “never make it”. So again, I ask why? I would propose it is because they’re missing the most powerful ingredient to their own secret sauce for success…self-awareness.
Successful people are self-aware. They have an intimate knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, or as I call them “blind spots”.
Blind spots are those areas that we can’t see. They are the weaknesses, or the things we may think are okay but are far from it. Blind spots can be hidden from sight or can be smack-dab in front of your face. Being self-aware helps eliminate blind spots that can limit success. But is it possible to eliminate your blind spots? The answer is absolutely yes! The first step is to identify your blind spots and then immediately move to address them. If you don’t eliminate your blind spots after you’ve identified them you’re simply in denial…and for most people success is not possible when in a state of denial.
3 things successful people do, and you should do, to eliminate blind spots:
1. Read. Read as much as you can. Read broadly. Books on leadership, business, biographies of great leaders, and history provide great insights and perspective on traits and characteristics necessary to achieve success. I have found some of my best “ah-ha” moments reading American History, specifically in the area of Presidential biographies or autobiographies.
2. Ask. Create a list of 5 people you can count on to give you the honest-to-goodness truth. These may not be the people you think of immediately. Your closest friends may actually not be the best source of feedback. You may need to turn to someone you have a good relationship with as a close associate but not a close friend. Associates in your network often times provide the best, most honest advice.
3. Listen. Many people struggle to be good listeners. The act of listening is an intentional one. Hearing takes no intention. As I write this blog I have Dave Matthews playing in the back ground. I hear it, but I couldn’t tell you the lyrics, and most of the time when I’m deep in work I might not know the song that’s playing. Listening requires a person to open their mind and concentrate on what’s being said and the words being spoken. Only through effective listening is it possible to understand the feedback being given. Point being, when you are receiving feedback make sure there is no other noise or distractions…don’t just hear it…listen.
Being self-aware is the one ingredient that can help you achieve game-changing success. Expand your knowledge, ask for input, and most of all open your mind and listen. If you can do these 3 things you’re on your way to being able to accomplish your greatest dreams and goals.
As always, I’m interested in your comments and feedback so keep them coming!