In 2016, VaynerMedia CEO & entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk took part in an interview with the great Larry King. During that interview, King asked Vaynechuk, who is a big proponent of self-awareness, how one can become more self-aware. His answer (at least to me) was surprising: I don't know. For someone who claims to know so much about self-awareness, it was amazing to me that he didn't have an answer.
So, in hopes to help answer this ever growing question about the root of self-awareness, we wanted to present to you some of the skills that we have taught to over 175 NCAA All-Americans, 5 NCAA Championship Teams, and professional athletes from the MLB, NFL, USATF, and PGA. Here are 5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware:
First, be available. You may be thinking, what the hell does that mean? The great comedian Bill Murray talked about the importance of being available in an interview with Charlie Rose two years ago. Very few have explained how important it is to be alert and available as good as Murray does in this interview. To put it plainly, being available means that you are not stuck in a bubble and to be aware of what is going on around you. Being available also means (most importantly) that you are willing be be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Those who lack self-awareness are those who do not want to address their weaknesses and are not truthful about their strengths. Here are some things that you can ask yourself during this first step:
- What am I good at?
- When things have become tough, what are the activities that I have quit and what are the ones that I have stuck with?
- What are my weaknesses?
- Other than a relationship, what is the one thing that could be taken away from you that you could not be without and why?
Second, start a mindfulness practice. We have written much about about mindfulness on this blog and how vital it is to success in athletics, business, and life. Taking the time to learn your thoughts, how you react under stress, and how well you can focus is where you can make huge strides in becoming more self-aware.
Third, get organized - Nearly any problem can be solved through organization. When I work with political campaigns, I always tell them on the first day that "organization will solve all of your problems." Why this is so vital to self-awareness is simple: if you are not organized, you are never going to know where your focus needs to truly be. Your efforts and energies are always put into a state chaos - rather than in areas where it deserves and is needed. An organized person has a much greater chance to succeed compared to one that just does shit on the fly.
Forth, play to your strengths - After you determine what you are good and what you care about, then play to whatever that strength is. This does not mean that just because you are good at something you do not need to address your weaknesses. I work with a lot of track and field athletes. Some have great leg speed, some are great in the weight room, some are superior in their mental toughness. Those who lack those strengths however, although they work to improve them, don't obsess with their shortcomings. They know what their strengths are and do what they can to make those even better, while continuing to improve in other areas.
Fifth, realize that becoming self-aware is hard - Recently, we talked about how you can fail and still succeed. This concept is really important to understand on your journey to becoming more self-aware. You are going to fail on your journey. Even when you think you have everything figured out and you know how you are - you are going to fail. You will make poor decisions. And that's ok. Just accept that this is going to be hard. Accept that all things that have great results are going to be challenging. And when you do fail, don't waste your time complaining about how hard it is, spend your time getting ready to start again.
So what are you waiting for? Get to work.