Just a quick heads up
If your goal in business is to become a more effective manager, you can read scores of advice columns that list desirable skills and outline the traits of good leaders. There are many things you can learn from books, classes and from other people about ways to conduct yourself and how to advance your career. Most are worth reading.
But just going through the motions is not always enough to lift you above the merely competent. In order to excel, in business and in life, you must go beyond the ordinary. Being a person of influence is not meant to be an easy road and not gained by reading a bunch of books!
The admonition to “Know Thyself” is attributed to Socrates, and Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Another philosopher from another cultural tradition expresses a similar thought just a little differently:
“Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power,” according to Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist Philosopher.
It certainly appears that all three were speaking of the same thing.
To me, it boils down to the need for self-examination. What do the three phrases mean to you?
In simple terms, I think those early philosophers were telling us to search for answers within ourselves.
You must examine your core values and beliefs; take a good at your goals and dreams, and figure out what you can do to make them real.
Basically, you must “Look in the mirror!”
Find Your Self
By getting in touch with yourself, by finding out exactly what makes you you, you’ll also be able to see exactly how you fit into the whole scheme of things, both on a personal level and in the business world. You’ll discover your built-in “operating system.” It’s the mind and heart connection for happiness in life and success in business.
You’ll learn what it is about you that’s strong, solid and unshakable. You’ll be able to tap into your innate strengths when you face life’s challenges. You’ll also confront your fears and face your shortcomings. The bonus is that, if you really pay attention, you’ll relate better to others and understand their needs and wants as well. That’s the beginning of leadership and a key component in team building. And those are the attributes of a good manager.
Growth never comes from the outside. It comes from within. But, most of the time it doesn’t come as an “Aha moment!” It takes time to develop that comprehension. Insight recognition is an ongoing process. But it’s worth the effort.
If you’re ready to expand your potential, to grow in understanding and to improve your chances for success in business and in your personal relationships, you must be brave enough to get to that core and peel off all the layers of illusion that you have been harboring. They cloud your vision and limit your growth.
In order to get to the truth of what you really are and what you can become, you must get to that core. You must discover yourself — your Self.
That’s the first step
And, yes, it’s really powerful!
Philosophy and the Reality of Business
So, that’s the philosophy, but what about the reality?
It’s always helpful to have an outline for success, but it’s not enough.
Why is it that some people excel as managers and motivators? Invariably, those lists of desirable traits touch on the ability to inspire and empower others. They talk about the need to focus on relationships, to develop listening skills, to offer positive feedback and to be liberal with praise. They are all valuable traits to learn and develop.
But human skills, as I mentioned, come from within. As you perfect the ability to manage yourself and your own life, to stay in touch with your innermost feelings and your core beliefs, you also become more able to interact with other people. You’ll learn to really communicate and relate, to understand and explain. You’ll set goals and you’ll achieve them! Effective managers “choose their battles,” lead by example rather than by issuing orders and focus on solutions rather than problems.
It’s a collaboration between heart and mind that grows from an understanding of self.
You may aspire to proficiency — or even greatness — on many levels, but the basic need — for all of us — is to become better human beings. Better people make better leaders.
So what is there about knowing yourself, about being in touch with your innermost feelings and your core beliefs that will help you become a better person?
In today’s terms, knowing “what makes you tick” will help you become more authentic. The rest follows naturally.
Better people become wise. And wise people treat others well. It’s only natural.
When you search deeply to understand what it is that makes you you, it happens almost automatically. You become connected not only to yourself in a profound way, but to other people as well, and you find it easier to understand others and to relate to them in meaningful ways. It’s almost mystical, but it’s very real.
I think Socrates, Aristotle and Lao Tzu would agree. What about you?