Be more successful when you ask yourself these 6 questions
In my mentees and in the audiences I speak to, I often sense this disconnect: they act on the assumption that who they are isn’t what the world wants to see. They feel they should be more like their competitors, or like a larger company, or like society expects them to be. Quite the contrary: being true to yourself is the secret to finding that unique USP (unique selling proposition or unique selling point) that so many businesses and individuals seek desperately to find.
Being true to yourself isn’t just about deciding you don’t want to conform to expectations. It offers immense return on investment: it’s all about cultivating your unique qualities and offering your clients, coworkers, employees what nobody else can give them.
If you’ve been working hard but not quite seeing the results you would like, working even harder is not necessarily what you need. Take a step back and explore your own answers: what if there was a way that felt more natural? To be more successful, you also need to be in harmony with who you are. Sure, little by little you can change who you are and going out of your comfort zone is a big part of being successful.
But when you work to change yourself to become even more “you”, that’s when the magic happens. So stop trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
Whether you are setting up a business, have been in business for a while, or you’re an “intrapreneurial” employee, (Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization) set aside some time for self-reflection and ask yourself these 6 searching questions.
Enjoy the incredible surge of energy and inspiration that is sure to follow!
1. Who is your true self?
Have you ever said “Sure isn’t everybody like that?” That’s when you have found something within yourself that is so natural, it’s rooted in your DNA.
I remember the morning a radio presenter called me “The Positive Economist” when I was pointing out all of the opportunities around us, even though we were in the teeth of the recession. My response was “Isn’t everybody seeking those out?” It looks like it wasn’t the case at the time…
Take a moment to reflect on your personality and your career. Think back to several episodes or projects at work: what worked well? Which projects do you remember with pride and fondness? Which projects are you less happy about? List the achievements you are proud of. A picture will start to emerge. What are you good at, what comes naturally to you? No, it doesn’t come naturally to everybody else, so capitalise on your strengths.
2. “When do I feel ‘in the zone’?”
Think back to a time when you felt ‘in the zone’, with laser focus. What task were you engaged with? Who was with you? What made this moment special? What skills and abilities did you need to draw on?
I get this tremendous feeling just before I stand in front of an audience, to give them insights about the economy, or empower business people with practical ways to improve their business, with the raw honesty of my own experience. Being true to yourself is the ultimate success strategy because it reduces friction.
3. “What activities, and what way of doing these
activities, give me more energy than they take?”
If you like what you do, the work/life balance equation becomes much easier to solve. Being in alignment with yourself goes a long way towards preventing burn-out – or “bore-out”.
Do things on your own terms: there is no prescribed protocol that you have to stick to. So tackle projects in the way that feels most natural to you. If you’re a logical thinker like me, then tools and processes are key: Trello, algorithms in spreadsheets, a categorized inbox. If you prefer open creativity, then use mind maps (SimpleMind), whiteboards (Evernote) and Pinterest to get different perspectives.
4. Finish that sentence: “If I’m honest with myself,
I have always wanted to do… / I have always
wanted to be…”
If you had to write a life purpose or a mission statement for yourself, what would it be? What qualities would you exemplify and what results would these qualities lead to? The first answer, the one you find yourself blurting out, is the most revealing: see what it tells you about yourself, and how it can be read in the wider context of your business. Use the GROW (Goals, Realities, Opportunities and What am I going to do about it) model to strategise how to move forward.
5. “Something I would like to improve about
If there is something you don’t like about yourself, can you change it?
If you can change it, what small step could you take today? Could you get training, find a role model to learn about their journey or seek out an accountability partner?
If you can’t change it (for example, your age), then how could you turn it into a positive? If you’re of a more vintage demographic, then you have wisdom, experience and efficiency. If you’re just starting out, you have enthusiasm, fresh ideas and are digitally savvy.
6. A question to ask somebody who knows you well
and likes you
“What do you think makes me special?” Asking somebody who has your best interests at heart can be eye-opening. Have you ever had the experience of reading the CV of a close friend and thinking “This is not the person I know”? When it comes to knowing ourselves, we are seldom the most lucid and unbiased observer! Ask your friends and coworkers to tell you stories of moments when you impressed them or good memories that they have with you – what was your role?
For more inspiration and to listen to entrepeneurs who succeeded by being true to themselves, listen to the Savvy Women Podcast.
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