Secret Ingredient of Success: Self-Awareness

Secret Ingredient for Success:  Self-Awareness

I was rereading an old article the other day* by Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield about the key ingredient very successful people often identify as critical for overcoming challenges leading to their success. Contrary to expectation, it is not “talent, persistence, dedication and luck.” Needless to say, those elements do play a role. However, the key ingredient high achievers identify is self-awareness – that difficult but infinitely valuable ability to take a brutally deep look at oneself and question all aspects of one’s assumptions. Too often when things are not going as we would like, we tend to blame others or say we just need to work harder. But those do not bring the positive change or results we might desire.  Looking within and asking the hard questions about whether we are actually doing the things we need to do to achieve what we want to achieve is the key.

First, of course, one must be quite clear on what it actually is we want to achieve. Being extremely clear on our goals and objectives is a start, followed by clarity on the route to achieve these. Too often we fall into the trap of not examining our assumptions about the methodology we’ve chosen. If there are problems we tinker around the edges but don’t ask ourselves fundamental questions about our approach. We often also fail, however, to take a critical look at the vision, goals and objectives themselves.  No matter our field of endeavor – be it as an entrepreneur, a small business owner, an executive of a large business or a nonprofit organization , or as an athlete, musician, artist or office worker – we each can analyze what we are looking for, what we want our contribution to be, and what the range of approaches are for pursuing our dreams.

Ask yourself: what do I want to be known for? In what way do I want to make a positive contribution to my community, to my family, to my field of work? What am I doing now that supports achieving these aims? Am I satisfied with the level of my achievement and contribution? If not, am I limiting myself due to biases and assumptions about my environment and approaches? What alternatives do I have to do things differently, including fundamental changes in the way of thinking about what I’m doing?

Successful individuals and leaders make a point of looking deeply at themselves and analyzing all aspects of how they can approach their goals. Blaming others when confronted with challenges is not a successful strategy. We can impact what we can control, and that is ourselves.  Shakespeare had it right when he wrote in Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”  Thus, we need to look at ourselves.

The starting point for breakthroughs of success is to develop self-awareness, and then to build on this through concrete action.   

iDIMENSIONS coaches use several awareness/assessment tools in their practices which can help you gain greater insights into yourself and what’s important for you personally and professionally. Find out more here.


Sandy Mitchell

Business & Executive Coach


The New York Times - January 20, 2013

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