On Friday I will be invited by my business school alumni network to discuss self-awareness and why developing more of it can help us get what we want. As I was pondering on what to share – as much can be said – and what will be both powerful and practical to discuss, I settled on two problems that seem to be at the root cause of our lack of results, in any given area of our life.
The first is not being clear on what we actually value, and the second is not being clear on what we actually want.
Ever since I was a kid, I have said to myself that I wanted to make money when I grew up. Probably because I was used to a certain standard of living and saw it as a way to prove myself and make my family proud. I engaged in higher education with this in mind. The reality though, turned out quite different. When I had the chance to interview for a Summer internship at J.P. Morgan, I turned it down a few days before the interview to go visit family in Australia instead. I still ended up joining investment banking, but about 4 years later, I quit my cosy role at HSBC (which paid less than J.P. Morgan) to start my own business as a self-employed coach, taking an obvious financial hit. And then, 3 years after that, just when my coaching business was starting to take off and provide me some form of financial hope, I again chose the path of a pay cut to join the Founder of iDiscover 360 full time, because I believed in his vision and the impact we could make in the world of coaching and personal growth.
Over the years I sometimes felt like I was self-sabotaging. I don’t look at it this way anymore. What I see, is that while I still aspire to make money and want to be rewarded well for doing something that makes a difference and which I love, there are other things that I value more. At first I did not see this consciously, and could not quite understand why I kept taking the option that “paid me less”. But I have come to realise that my actions clearly show a different set of priorities that fulfil me more than what I told myself would. Today I am aware of these priorities consciously, but the previous lack of awareness around it has caused me to be somewhat confused for a long time, between what I thought and said I wanted, and what I actually ended up doing.
This is the first step to getting the results you want: becoming more clear on what you actually value, rather than what you think you value.
To explain the second one, I need to bring my marriage into this (nothing to worry about though, all is well and good…). My wife has been such a source of inspiration for me when it comes to having clear intentions about things. This is something I am still learning from her every day. Every time I have a talk or a new workshop to prepare, and I don’t know where to begin, she helps me distil what is the outcome I actually want to achieve. When we get clear on this, the rest happens by itself. Another situation where she exemplifies this is before she reaches out to someone she does not know, or introduces two people to each other. Whereas I might jump in and see what happens or let the people figure it out themselves, she gets very deliberate about the reason why she is doing it, therefore she knows clearly what it is she actually wants. This often leads to higher quality results and more fruitful conversations.
While I tend to set my long term goals rather easily, in the day to day minutiae of things I need to constantly remind myself to be more clear with my intentions and the outcomes I want to create. This is how author, speaker and coach Anthony Robbins makes this point. He asks: “What do you want?”; say the person replies: “I want to make more money”; then Tony Robbins throws them a note saying: “Fine, here’s a dollar, get out of here!”. No clear outcome, no fulfilling result.
This is the second step to getting the results you want: becoming more clear on what you actually want, and this means being specific and intentional.
Both of these can go a long way to maximising your achievements and your fulfilment! They may not always be sufficient, but they are undoubtedly necessary. In both cases, vagueness is the enemy, and self-awareness is the key.