Ah awareness, a topic that the general public is for lack of a better word-not very aware of.
This concept was first really brought to my attention and drilled into my head by Tai Lopez. It happens to be the very first step in his 67 day program. I'll admit that for most of my life my awareness factor was awfully low, a 5 at most out of 10. Tai believes that awareness is a critical building block of success and he says that it is a trait that virtually all of his successful friends and mentors have in common. He mentions a certain test that Mensa created to determine if your toddler is going to be intellectually gifted. They place your child in a room with lots of other babies and then they see if they notice things that nobody else does. While we didn't all start as genius babies with naturally high awareness, we can learn to cultivate this trait and put it to work in our life today. I personally break awareness up into three categories and they are: general, self and professional.
Starting off with general awareness and why it is important in your life, Tai asks how many of you look down and know what your F5 key does? It turns out that most of us go through life barely scratching the surface of it. How many of you have taken the time to go completely through your phone and know what every little button does? What about if you have a website? Do you know what every button and tool does? If not, how come? Well the answer usually is you have a very low awareness/curiosity factor (check out the article I wrote on curiosity here). A scientific name for this is your NFC factor or "Need for Cognition" ( your need to know factor). If you are thinking right now "aw man I don't know what anything does", fear not my friends, this is not the end of the world by any means. It turns out that this is more of a state than a trait. Once you get it into your head that you should be better at noticing your environment and digging deeper into day to day things, you will naturally start to do so. You can start to hone your awareness the next time you walk into a room. Look around and try to notice what everyone is wearing exactly. Look at peoples faces and try to think about what they are feeling or thinking about. This will not only start to build your general awareness, but you will also start to develop a stronger sense of empathy which is so very important.
You might be asking me "Hey ben, what the hell does this have to do with business or life? Give me something more concrete here!" Well the step up from this would be self awareness. Whether you are trying to decide what you want to do for your future career, you're already employed, or you have already started your own business, what is your level of self awareness right now? This goes back 2000+ years to the Oracles of Delphi who insisted that you know thyself, and you will find that philosophers ever since then have been repeating it over and over in one way or another.
One way of knowing yourself is to take a free personality test such as the Myers-Briggs, it only takes a few minutes and will give you a good starting place. I for example am an ENTP, or Extrovert, iNtuivtive, Thinking, and Perceiving. What this means is that I am typically a more social person, I usually go by my gut instinct- but I process my information and make decisions based on logic ( you can see how these can clash). Finally I tend to improvise and explore alternative routes rather than sticking to one plan. Tai talks about how to find your "Eulerian Destiny" which is a funny name for finding out what you should be doing with your life. Although I am not an expert at it he suggests that you make 4 circles and see where they intersect. Inside these 4 circles you put the following: what you grew up around, what strangers compliment you on, what you can talk about endlessly on a Saturday night, and what you have been doing for the past 5-10 years. I personally think a big part of it comes down to picking something you are naturally curious about and something that the more you learn about, the more interested you become. You should seek to turn puzzles into mysteries as the book Curious suggests.
The next part of this process is building on your strengths. If you have read the book Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker he says that we can only build on strengths and it is a terrible mistake to build on weaknesses. This goes against everything we are taught in our schools today, they would have us become a jack of all trades. I know that personally I am a social person, and my personality tests tend to agree. I am far more happy when I get to interact with people all day and laugh, it makes work so much easier for me. I have a ton of energy so that means I tend to start lots of things and sometimes have trouble sticking through with them to the end. In my case it would be wise to start a business with a person who is a lot more practical than myself, someone who is perhaps great at sticking through with things ( if you're out there, shoot me a message!). If you are already running your business, you are going to need to learn how to delegate things which Felix Dennis talks about in his book How to Get Rich and-you guessed it- this comes from self awareness. First of all if you are hiring people, make sure you are hiring people who have traits and skills that complement your own. Although it seems like a good idea, it is not very conducive to your companies growth to hire a bunch of "mini me's".
If I had known about this a few years ago I could of skipped a two long years of learning Mechanical Engineering Technologies. I would have realized that I am not building on strengths by learning strict engineering processes and becoming highly logical, although it has really helped me to balance my personality. An example of my Eulerian Destiny would be the following: I grew up around salespeople and entrepreneurs, people compliment me now on how many books I read, my positive attitude, my philosophy etc. I can talk endlessly about self development topics and business, and I have spent the last 5 years working on myself. So with that being the case I naturally gravitated towards something that combines all of these things, for now it is sales.
If you want to know what your strengths are for sure, the only way to find out is by what Peter Drucker calls Feedback Analysis. You essentially come up with a hypothesis and then you go out and experiment. Come up with a certain time frame, typically 3-18 months, and then after that is done, you can check to see if you achieved the results you were looking for. In How to Get Rich Dennis also mentions this in the chapter called "The Search" which is his take on finding your destiny. He says the only way to know what you should do is by good old fashion trial and error.
The last part of awareness I tend to think about is your professional awareness, which is also closely related to if not the same as curiosity. No matter what your profession or business may be, how knowledgeable are you on it? I am currently selling products for a very large telecom company and I could for example tell you what the annual gross revenue is for all our competitors. Do you know what is the price of all your competitions products? How about who started the company and who is on their current board of directors? You should also be up to date on the current trends and business models in other industries. Even if you are not running your own business you can for sure impress your boss if you know more about his business and his competitors than he does! Your awareness and curiosity is what will allow you to catch the next big trends in your industry as well. Take it from Mark Cuban who is a 10 in awareness. He says that in business you have to be able to see around corners, and no doubt working on this trait is how he accomplishes that.
So to recap some ways to begin to increase your awareness factor are to just start clicking through your phone and finding out what stuff does. Try to do this for your computer, car manuals, and everything else you use on a day to day basis. You will find that this will start to rewire your brain and build your curiosity muscle. If you are in a crowd of people, take the time to look at what they are all wearing and doing, people watch ( you don't have to stare and be creepy). For your self awareness go and take some personality tests, think long and hard about the 4 steps of the eulerian destiny, and start formulating hypotheses to test for feedback. Finally whatever your business is you can start by reading annual reports of your company and its competitors. Find trade magazines and articles, and talk to other people in your field to help you start to see where there are early trends developing and the direction of the industry. If you want to learn more go ahead and grab the 67 steps from Tai Lopez, I learned a lot through him and for 67$ its easily worth many times that. Disclaimer: I am affiliated with Tai Lopez but everything that I find personally valuable I have 100% no problem sharing with others. With that said, I hope that this helps and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading,