Ep. 254 It all starts with self-awareness

it all starts with self awareness

In this week’s episode, Anna explores how to think like an entrepreneur, starting with self-awareness.

To design work that you love, to be confident in what you can do, and to communicate that clearly to other people, you need to first have self-awareness.

In this week’s episode, we look at…

  • What happens when you don’t have a clear understanding of who you are and what makes you tick
  • The impact of having a strong sense of self-awareness to guide your decisions and actions
  • How this self-awareness will allow you live a life that’s true to who you are

Tune in to explore the importance of self-awareness!

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

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Hello, Hello, we are into September and that means at least here in the UK and here in my life, we’re back from summer holidays, back to school. And for me for the first time in Gosh, how old am I in many, many years, we actually are back to school with my daughter Sofia is starting school. So there’ll be lots of settling in over the next few weeks, we’ve got an hour here and morning there. And then we’ll start by the end of the month. So it’s a little bit mixed in terms of having time for work this month. But I do have that sense of back to school, all the new school shoes and uniform and labels and no stationery, unfortunately, I think they get that at school. So I didn’t get to buy all the pretty pens and paper for her although I do for myself. And for you maybe like me, this time of year, certainly in the northern hemisphere, when we’ve just come back from summer and we sort of get back into the school back to school mindset. September tends to be almost more powerful than the is it the Jordan calendar that starts in January, that sort of artificial sort of after Christmas, I’ve got to have eaten too much.

And I’ve got to start work this January, especially I was a bit slow getting going. Whereas September, I feel like yeah, okay, back to school mindset back into work, and so on. So with that in mind, we’re shifting gears a little bit, by looking at personal branding over the summer, maybe you haven’t been listening, if you haven’t done do please have a listen, if that’s of interest to you in terms of your personal brand, really being your new CV these days, how you can grow your impact with that personal brand. So in the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at what I want to call thinking like an entrepreneur, and I’m hoping this will be relevant to you whether you’re considering starting your business, you’re already in a business because there are lots of mindset shifts that are required at different levels, both when you’re starting out.

And when you’re more experienced, you know, I left my job 10 years ago.

So there are definitely continued shifts happening for me. And also, if you’re in a job, and you think of yourself, and then about as a would be, or what I’m going to tell you, you should think of yourself a little bit as I would be intrapreneur. So I N tra intrapreneur I sort of an internal entrepreneur. And before I even get into this, today, I want to talk about one of the traits. In fact, I’ve introduced all of them, which will tie me to these topics. But hopefully we’ll be flexible and adaptable even within that framework that I’m providing. But I really want to caveat all this with I’m a bit tentative, sensitive, resistant, reluctant to what’s the word I’m looking for, to use the word an entrepreneur, when my clients and certainly myself I tend to prefer sort of solopreneur or rich even that that’s a bit you know, it’s a bit limiting, or, you know, expert, self employed or however you want to define as a freelancer and so on. Right, it’s so hard to find the right term, I don’t think I am perhaps no you feel or sort of aspire to sometimes, or at least resonate with the idea of being an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs is kind of magical unicorn born with this risk taking spirit.

And from what we see on LinkedIn, and all these memes and things. It’s getting up at five in the morning, hustling all the time, you know, taking risks and all this crazy stuff. And and I don’t think that’s accurate festival. But that’s another story. It certainly hasn’t been my experience. So I think one of the myths, myths, gosh, I can’t find the words today. What’s happened over the mushy summer, my brain has gone to mush. One of the misconceptions about having your own business and taking risk is that it is a real, risky business. And there’s a difference between risk and uncertainty. Yes, there’s risk, but it’s a calculated risk that we’re taking in, let’s face it a world of uncertainty. But we’re not just willy nilly throwing money at stuff, we’re using our intuition, we’re making sound decisions, perhaps with less clarity, certainty than we would within a more stable corporate environment. But again, the world is pretty volatile now. And now things change. You know, the last few years, we’ve experienced crazy things, we will continue to do so. But we’re not. We can like put ourselves into a community here. Those of us who whatever we want to call ourselves and who worked for ourselves and not in this crazy unicorn risk taking whatever, I don’t know, the sort of Richard Branson, Elon Musk thing is not quite where I see myself. And yet, there are certain things that I’ve had to shift in my mindset and how I behave. And I think they’re powerful shifts that would serve you. Whether you’re, again, planning or being in a corporate organization, the rest of your life, you’re considering leaving or you have already left.

And so the themes I want to cover, and I will please do allow me some flexibility if I change your mind, but the first one today is self awareness, self awareness, we’re going to talk about intrinsic motivation rather than the external rewards and recognition. You know, I talk about the good girl syndrome and people pleasing and so on. So we’ll talk about intrinsic motivation. We’ll talk about courage. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know, I’m a fan of growth over Comfort. We’ll talk about adaptability, adaptability, so, so important in a world of change, growth mindset, which I’ve talked about as well, coming from Carol Dweck book mindset, she’s got a TED talk as well about the growth versus fixed mindset. Lifelong learning all that jazz. Accountability sounds not so sexy, but super important that ownership for taking responsibility.

And then finally, resilience, resilience, super important as well. So those are the key traits I want to look at in the coming weeks. So again, I hope this will be relevant for you. And in whatever walk of life you are, you find yourself. And today I want to talk about self awareness, which certainly, definitely should be an interesting topic and an important one for all of us. So the thing about self awareness is that, you know, we’re very good at judging other people, I’d say, Oh, they really have no clue. You know, we’ve certainly got some people in my immediate sphere, where think, Oh, how can they? How can they not be? I don’t know, embarrassed by that? How can they not tell that this is inappropriate, or, you know, there’s very easy to judge other people. And yet, it’s very hard to see ourselves, we kind of want that magic mirror. And in fact, that’s how it’s why it’s quite valuable. One of the many reasons to work with someone like a coach or a therapist, depending on the things you’re working on, or a friend, in fact, you know, someone holds a mirror up, and is able to reflect back and you can really do some deep thinking and reflection on

Hang on a second, you know, what was the mistake I made there? Or, you know, can I take ownership of something, I didn’t say one, but it’s actually quite hard. But it’s a problem. And having a sound, self awareness, understanding of who we are, what makes us tick is so critical, certainly to running our own business to developing any kind of career and to having relationships personally, and taking care of our kids and whatever else, right. So it’s so so crucial. If we don’t have that self awareness, you know, without a clear understanding of your strengths, your weaknesses, your values, that’s a really important exercise that I think we should all do, you can easily make decisions that aren’t aligned with your true capabilities and passions, right. And if you’re in corporate organization, you might find yourself taking on projects that don’t fully leverage your talents.

So you might get really frustrated in roles, where oh, this is, you know, I’m having to do something that I just don’t enjoy doing.

It’s not your zone of excellence, let alone your your zone of genius, you know, lack of self awareness, and I’m thinking personal relationships, but also work again, whether you’re a solopreneur intrapreneur, however you want to identify yourself, can really get in the way of communicating with other people as well, right? Because, if I don’t know, let’s come back to the topic of personal branding. If I don’t know what I stand for, what’s my value proposition, it’s very hard for me to sell myself to build that personal brand externally, because if I don’t know what my value is, How on earth am I going to communicate that to other people, and likewise, you know, working in a team, you know, you’re if you’re not aware of your own communication style, the impact of how you behave, and so on, then you won’t really be able to collaborate very effectively, with with clients, with colleagues, with peers and partners, and so on. And if you don’t have self awareness, this is a bit harsh, maybe but you know, we’re going to stagnate we’re going to, I want to say sort of resigned ourselves to mediocracy, there’s certainly not going to be that growth, that’s so important to me, you know, if I can’t tell at all, this is really an area should be improving. or understanding, even in my product offering, right in my business, you know, I’m not actually adding the value there that, you know, it’s not worth the price that people are paying. Well, I’m not showing up fully for my clients right now. You know, for my team, I might be ignoring my true passions, and I’m just kind of settling for whatever I happen to be doing now. And that’s a massive missed opportunity. So I hope you can see and I hope you agree that that self awareness is so important for making a line decisions, for communicating with other people for communicating your value proposition. And for growing and developing and building a business career life that really suits you that that allows you to come alive, that allows you to fulfill your full potential.

If you don’t know what that potential is, then how on earth can we you know, build that into reality.

On the other hand, if you have really strong self awareness, then you can better understand also your client’s needs, you can build deeper and more meaningful relationships. You can foster more positive interactions, you know, with colleagues, you can boost your team morale and productivity and so on. Right. So super important relationships. And again, I’m trying to stick to the professional sphere, but we can understand that this has a ripple effect also with personal relationships, romantic and otherwise. If you’re self aware, you can really leverage your strengths to maybe solve challenges in a more creative way to bring bring in support and partner with other people who can help you where perhaps you have blind spots, and really drive change within your business within your team within the organization. And finally, having that self awareness breeds confidence.

And that translates to trust, right, from clients, from colleagues, again, from from friends and peers and whoever you’re interacting with, if you’re really understanding your value and who you are, you know, as much as when we’re younger, certainly, and lack confidence, we sort of, I wanted to be the cool girl and I, you know, wanted to pretend that I like this music or, and so on. And we think that’s what people want. But actually, it’s so we respect people say much more, if they are, clearly and confidently being themselves, and maybe we disagree with them, maybe you know, there’s something we don’t like. But it’s still you respect that I certainly respect that self awareness and knowledge and conviction with which they make decisions, right. And that’s really attractive, actually, that’s very aspirational, I think and admirable. And I think that gives us more trust and stability and respect, then if someone is sort of a bit of a Slippery Eel, and they’re constantly chopping and changing, you don’t really know what you have them.

And that can be quite uncomfortable, quite discombobulating, that’s a good word. So you’re much more trustworthy leader in your field, you know, even if you’re showing up, and we’ll talk about authenticity and my in a moment, if you’re showing up authentically online, and your social media and so on, that breeds trust for me, I’m like, okay, every time she shows up, she’s, you know, doing that through a lens of whatever it is that big theme that sort of lenses for you, right? To really align your content with who you are and what you stand for. That builds trust. And that consistency really builds a coherent idea of who you are in my in my eyes. And as I said, the the final piece, so talked about the challenges that happened when you don’t have self awareness, the impact when you do, and authenticity is a word that’s thrown out around a lot, but I think we do want to be authentic certainly was one of the values I came up with, as I left my corporate job 10 years ago. And, and being myself, you know, it’s, it’s a tough one, right? I don’t even know how to define that word. But I think it’s what we all dream of, to be ourselves and be loved for who we are. And I do think also, that’s the cornerstone of success, professionally and otherwise. So if I am self aware, and know who I am, what I stand for, and I can really embrace that if I can embrace my true self, I have a profound understanding of my strengths, my passions, my values, I can then again, develop that business, and design a life that is completely aligned to who I am and who I want to be. And likewise, if you’re an internal organization, leader, for a team, and so on, but you can really make a more impactful contribution, and align your journey with who you are, and not sort of copy what other people are doing or end up in a place or a role that sort of you felt you should do, but just doesn’t fit. You know, when we build a brand, but business brand personal brand, again, we have to know who we are. And then the business becomes an extension of that, by definition as a solopreneur, who’s passionate about the work we do, we’re pretty inextricably linked, although there is a boundary there.

But we are very much intertwined with the business that we’re building.

And likewise, to be honest, especially when you’re at a more senior level in an organization you become very closely aligned with your identity is very much attached to, you know, co coherent, cohesive with hopefully, the the role you play in your organization in your career. And so if you want to have you know, an authentic leadership role and be that leader, for your team, for your industry, and so on, then that starts with that self awareness to represent yourself in a in a true way. And I think that’s very admirable, again, is the word I’m thinking and aspirational for other people, for more junior people in your organization. And finally, we talked a little bit about, you know, misaligned decision making that comes when you don’t have the self awareness. You can really leverage your self awareness to make the best decisions for you and for your team, for your business, for your family, and so on. If you really truly understand your motivations and aspirations, then you can navigate the choices that align with that path for you. So you can, again, whether you’re doing that for your family, for your team, for the company, where you work, if it’s your own company, for a senior leader in organization, you can align the decisions you’re making with what’s true to you as well as hopefully with the company’s values and objectives. So that’s what I have for you on self awareness today I’d love to hear from you. You know how self aware Do you feel?

Have you done work with a coach or or someone to really understand you know, one of the first exercises I did with a with a coach was understanding my values. I am you know, it can feel a bit like navel gazing and to be honest when when life gets busy and as it has done over a period of some time And but I do try to come back to it. But when life gets busy, it does feel a bit self indulgent to, to sort of do this kind of work on how, what is my true self and so on. But for all that kind of lightness that I’m approaching the topic I think is so, so crucial. If you don’t know what you want, if you don’t know who you are, what you stand for, you know, how are people around you going to understand who you are, what you stand for? How are you going to get what you want? How are you going to be able to make decisions? You know, I often say there is no right decision, but the right decision is the one that’s right for you. And if you don’t know what that is, that’s, that’s very disorienting and can lead to all sorts of trouble for you further down the line. So I hope that’s, that’s an important reminder of the importance of understanding who you are, what matters to you, what you stand for, again, whatever your you know, role or where you are on the journey of personal branding, building business, or being a senior leader in an organization, this self awareness is so so important as an entrepreneur and as I said, as someone internally as well, and in fact, anybody at all. So I hope you agree with me hope you found that interesting. And next week, we will look at another trait of thinking like an entrepreneur, which is intrinsic motivation. I did write an article about that some time ago on LinkedIn, and but I think it’s an important one. So we’ll look at that one next week. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you then. Bye for now.


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