Self-Awareness Could Make or Break Your Business

October 29th, 2015

Charles Gaushell


Ever arrive at a destination and have no idea how you got there?

Scary, right? Sometimes we’re completely absorbed in the song on the radio. Other times we’re distracted and doing the wrong things at the wrong time — like texting and driving. And yet there are plenty of times when we’re just completely zoned out and unaware of our actions.

I’ve always been a fan of Myers Briggs personality profiles and I’ve also recently completed a 360 Leadership Assessment review with ongoing coaching. The great thing about each is that they give you a different view on who you are and how you function. The 360 review is especially good in pointing out strengths and weaknesses from a leadership standpoint, while the Myers Briggs is great for understanding why I process and react to people and situations in certain ways — and why others don’t necessarily think like I do.

I’m an INFJ (The Defender) — Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging — which means I can be practical, dedicated, reliable and altruistic. But it also means that I can be shy, tend to have a hard time relaxing, and am easily frustrated when people don’t understand my seemingly conflicting traits. The greatest news — I wisely chose design as my career.

And in my Maxwell Leadership assessment (help from Bob Willumsen at potential2results) it shows that I’m strong in how I treat and care others, and am approachable and authentic. Yet I’m weak at holding people accountable, and I can push back quickly if they aren’t tracking with me. So I’m easy to talk to but very opinionated.

More information on each here:
Myers Briggs —
Leadership Assessment —

So am I self-aware or not? Yes and no. Clearly we all have blind spots and have a difficult time adjusting at times. None of us want to be looked at critically or realize we are really terrible, or even worse, just okay at certain things that we thought were strengths. We want everyone to like us and appreciate what we do.

The reality is that none of us is great at everything and that is actually okay.

We were uniquely created and we need to embrace that. In fact, when we are self-aware and align ourselves with others that are strong where we are weak, we can create even greater things. This is true as an individual and as a business.

As the owner of a branding/marketing/advertising agency, Paradigm Marketing & Creative, I have to work with companies to tell their story in authentic ways. As a result I spend quite a bit of time researching how consumers make decisions and connect with messages. After all, branding/marketing/advertising aren’t just about creating something cool or aesthetically pleasing, they have to connect with a pain point or emphasize who we think we are. At our core we make decisions to justify what we think about ourselves.

There it is again — the opportunity to be self-ware. Though much of the connection with a brand is subconscious for us, we are certainly aware of how we feel in specific restaurants, wearing a certain brand of clothing, or even supporting a particular charity.

If most consumers are not completely self-aware in their decisions, how will a company connect if it isn’t self-aware — of itself?

Perhaps stating the obvious, but just like people, most companies don’t really know or embrace who they are. Sure, they know what they do, how they do it, and generally what their mission statement and culture is about. But they usually fail to understand or align every touch point with their company/organization personality. They’re not quite sure where to focus. And just like consumers, our companies can be completely self-deceived because we want to be something that we are not.

I like the 75/20/5 rule. Spend 75 percent of your time utilizing your strengths, 20 percent on areas that you should improve and 5 on things you are not good at. Seems basic, but we often spend more time on things that we shouldn’t.

Whether it is our daily role, how we utilize our employees, or services that we provide, refocusing can be the difference in being marginal or exceptional.

We are often trying to please and do everything for everyone.

We think our best bet is to have the most success by connecting with a broad and diverse market. But much like our personal lives, that is not possible. I’m not strong at everything and I don’t relate in the same way to everyone. Neither does your company.

That is why understanding why we do what we do, how we do it, and who we relate with is so important. People buy your product or service because they connect with you; they believe in you. Otherwise, they will only make a pragmatic decision with you based on whoever offers the least painful or least expensive deal. Yet if they connect with you, they are willing to take on more pain or more cost. They’re willing to commit for the long haul.

So in simple terms, I would suggest that we all become more self-aware as individuals and as businesses. Ask these questions:

  • What is your personality profile? Embrace it and talk about it.
  • What are my true strengths and weaknesses? Know them and then focus appropriately.
  • Who relates best with our story? Understand your audience and why/how people connect with it.

By being self-aware you will not only be a better person, but you’ll build a better company.