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This week’s theme is self-awareness. I landed on this theme due to the many people I encounter who spend way too much time comparing themselves. It’s why I intentionally built the foundation last week focused on your mental health. Now we’re going to work at getting very real with ourselves. It’s not about who or what you want to become, it’s about who and what you are right now. Sure, we’re all subject to growth and improvement – which means we can change, but I want to push you to consider innate strengths, talents and abilities. I also want you to think about your beliefs, convictions and character traits. It’s time to look deeply into the mirror.
Growing up in retail and spending decades serving the public taught me the importance of outward focus. It was an enormous business-building educational advantage. I bring that up because I think it’s important for us to be outward facing when it comes to providing value. Life isn’t all about you. It’s not all about me. It’s about THEM – those we want to impact. Those we want to dazzle. Those we want to influence.
However, for us to truly deliver the highest value – we have to be inward facing. We have to be more fully in touch with who and what we are. And it’s not an easy thing for most of us because outside influences press on us to dream or imagine being something we’re not. Or loving something we may naturally hate.
I’m kicking off this week’s theme with figuring out what you love for three reasons. One, it’s a more positive viewpoint than to approach it by concentrating on what you hate. Two, it’s more difficult to really figure out what you love. Three, it’s more impactful to your long-term success than a focus on what you hate.
Let me encourage you to flip negatives into positives. I’m not opposed to the high value of negatives. They can serve us. Parents say “no” to their kids an awful lot because kids can be stupid and make dumb decisions. And because parents love their kids and want to teach them. “Don’t cross the street,” isn’t negative advice. It’s a negative statement – don’t – aimed at keeping the child safe.
The problem is we learn to implement it throughout our lives. Be more thoughtful to flip it when you’re able. For example, how many times do you apologize for relatively minor offenses? “I’m sorry I’m late,” is a common one.
Flip it into a positive that puts the attention on the other person, in a good way. “Thank you for waiting for me. I appreciate it.”
Doing hard work as opposed to the easy work is a habit that’s good for us. To think of what you love is way harder than thinking of what you hate. You instantly know what you hate. “I hate cauliflower” is an easy statement for lots of folks. “What’s your favorite vegetable of all time?” is a bit harder.
When we’re looking in the mirror – at our true selves – it’s insanely harder to land on what we most love. But the practice of doing it equips us to grow better at getting it done.
So it’s about a lasting impact. Long-term success and achievement. We’re not interested in some quick fix that won’t last. Sustainable growth is our objective.
Concentrate on the things you do daily inside your organization. Make note of the ones you truly love. The ones that fuel you. The ones that boost your energy just thinking about being able to do them.
The noise of business or organizational culture can ruin your ability to see accurately. For instance, culture gives so much wind and attention to the “start up” and “entrepreneurship.” People talk about starting a lot. It’s glorified.
But what if you don’t love the start? What if you know you’re not really good at the start?
True confession. I hate the start. I’m not good at the start. Meaning, launching isn’t easy for me because I hate that part of the process.
I know people who love nothing better than the start. But no sooner is the launch underway, they begin to lose interest. They so love the start, but they hate what comes after.
I’m the opposite. I hate the start, but once it’s underway – all that stuff in the middle, the building to get momentum – I love it. I love the middle.
Knowing that helps me. It can serve to keep me from trying to be something I’m not, or from saying “yes” to an opportunity that would likely not be fun or productive for me.
“To thine own self be true,” isn’t just some Shakespearean saying. It’s true.
But in order to be true to yourself, you have to come face to face with what you love. And you have to do it for one simple reason (although I’m sure there are plenty of others): you need energy for the grind.
When you love it you stick with it. When you hate it, you’ll accept any reason to quit.
Sure, it’s also highly probable that whatever you love is something you’re pretty good at. Better than something you hate.
I’m introverted. I enjoy being around people, but I don’t love being in crowds. I love being in a smaller group setting though – where conversations can go deeper than small talk (which I hate). What difference does it make in knowing (and facing) such truths? All the difference in the world if being at a bunch of events with lots of people is part of what’s needed to build my business. I’d be better served finding a person who loves that and delegating those activities to them.
So it’s not just what you love (and are likely pretty good at), but it’s knowing who and what you need to surround you in building or growing your business. The Jim Collins’ metaphor of putting the right people on the bus is true enough, but you need to be able to best figure out who they should be. I’m suggesting you focus on what you – and any potential teammates – love!
Besides, it’s lots more fun. And as much time as we spend working we should make it as fun as possible.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!