I have studied people for the last ten years or so. When I say study, I mean deliberately and frequently observe and evaluate people and their behaviors. Sure, we all have done a study of people for as many years as we have been on this earth. But when it is your job to manage and encourage people to change their behaviors, and then evaluate them on whether they actually did, you are looking at it differently than just casual observations of other people in our daily lives.
I have studied people from a management perspective. Overseeing a large number of people in an organization provides a real unique opportunity to see and be around people. It allows you to get a bird’s eye view of people and how they go about their daily lives. You see habits and behaviors, good and bad, that either help people on the job and in their personal life or hurt them in both of these.
In management one of my jobs, and all managers jobs, is to provide knowledge, ie. training, to people who foster behavior changes that increase performance. Training and development sessions also provide a unique opportunity to look at behaviors of people and gives you insight that you might not get otherwise. When you spend hours and days with people, it provides the chance to see how someone learns and applies what they learn in real-time.
After managing and leading for ten years I then started training and development full-time. And this is what I have done the last four years. Moving from training within one company to provide training and development to many companies and the public at large, you get the opportunity to see people at their best and their worst.
Out of all the behaviors I have coached and trained on from listening better, to speaking less, to developing processes, to time management strategies, and any other behavior that can allow for a person to have success, I have come up with two that I believe and know can make the biggest difference for people. They are living with intentionality and being self-aware.
Living with intentionality means: the fact of being deliberate or purposive. Now I know you are thinking that you already do this. And maybe you are, but most people don’t. Most people instead get up every day and live their life as it happens. For example: If you are reading this right now, today is January 12, 2017. Which means it is a new year. All of the studies and facts say that since we are now two weeks into the new year, that most people who have set new years goals, also called resolutions, have already gotten off track and are no longer pursuing these goals and resolutions they have.
Some of you are thinking that you get up every single day and go to work, do your job, take care of your family, and all of the other daily activities that life requires of us. And you think that is living with intentionality. Certain aspects of it is. However, the chances are you have been doing those some things for years and maybe even decades. Which means you are most likely doing these activities on autopilot, which requires very little thought or different approaches from you to get these things accomplished. It is not being intentional, it is just living.
They are habits and because they are habitual you don’t have to think about them. It’s like brushing your teeth. You don’t have to think about brushing your teeth, you just do it. You pick up the brush, put the toothpaste on it, brush, rinse, and your off to the next thing.
Living with intentionality means setting up a plan whether it is certain goals, milestones, or how you will go about your day and do things differently so you can get a different result. If you are reading this, and don’t care to have different results, then this blog is not for you. However, my guess is you are seeking to get a different result at work, or at home, maybe it is your bank account, your health, etc.
The other behavior that I have observed that makes people more successful is self-awareness. I believe when you start living with more intentionality you also become more self-aware.
Self awareness can be described as a conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. Once you are aware of these attributes within yourself, you can then see how your interactions with the world around you impacts those attributes within you.
Lets look at each one of the attributes that make up self-awareness.
If you don’t understand yourself, it means you can’t understand someone else. So when we use the word feelings. It could be sadness, anger, excitement, enthusiasm, etc. or any other feeling humans have at any given time. To be effective in life it requires us to have successful and sustainable relationships with other people. In almost any successful endeavor in life and especially in business, it will require a person to have successful interactions with other people.
The word motive is thrown around a lot. A motive is simply: something within that drives you to do something. Motives are hidden under the surface and requires a person to really understand themselves, to be able to understand what is that motivates them to do something.
Again, as I stated earlier, when people are aware of their own motives, they can the help other people identify their motives. Leadership, innovation, sales, are all positions within the marketplace that require people to understand other people. In leadership, you have to understand what the motives are of the people you lead may have to keep them within your company and excited to do their job. In sales, you have to understand someones motives to purchase a product. And innovation requires people to understand what someone else may be willing to buy to solve a problem or appeal to a motive they have. All three of these positions require a person to be self-aware of what they like, and to have impact with other people, to understand what it is that other people may like.
I believe motives are usually under the surface driving people, while desires are more surface. I may have a desire to own a Ferrari because it looks pretty and is a fast car. But the motive for me to own the car, would be deeper. It could be something like having a sense of “I made it” or more ego focused, like “I own a very exclusive car”. These motives are deeper and more under the surface and people usually wouldn’t admit them, but a successful sales person or leader can identify these motives and then create an environment to appeal to those motives .
Self-awareness; understanding what it is that makes you tick and then how your interactions impact those around you. I always say that a person must be able to read a room. Meaning they should be able to go in and understand what the feelings are of the people in the room. which would allow that person to understand how they need to interact with the people in that room.
When you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses you can develop strategies and methods to enhance your strengths. Doing what you do best. And minimizing your weaknesses. Getting others to do what you don’t want to do, or aren’t very good at doing.
Self-awareness and living with intentionality are two behaviors that can change everything for you and your success. It can change how the world receives you and how you receive the world. Since none of us live in a vacuum, it will always require us to interact with the world around us. In life there are positions that are more valuable, meaning they pay better, because it requires the people in those positions to understand other people. The only way to be able to understand other people, is to first be able to understand yourself. And when you become more self-aware, and you start living your life with intentionality in everything you do, you can have the impact you want to have, and the success you want.
To your success and your future.