Recently, I had a meeting with 15 sales reps. The issue we discussed was around Honesty and Personal Growth. Of course people realize the value in being honest with your customers, but we dug deeper into the value of first being honest with yourself. These days it's also called self awareness.
For the vast majority of my clients, it is the hardest process to go through - self examination. However, until you delve into what makes you tick, nothing else changes. And people don’t generally work with me because they feel everything is going just fine. That’s what led me to write the book and choose the title, “Are You for Real??”
I start each client off with an assessment to help them understand themselves. Personality traits, strengths and weaknesses all give us clues as to why we love our jobs, hate our jobs, work well with some people and not so well with others. Truly, it makes most people uncomfortable to realize where they come up short, but it’s crucial information to help them begin to be aware of it (lately the big term has been self-awareness) and how to work with it or overcome it.
Once you understand your tendencies and preferences, you can start to manage your career. You learn what motivates you and why, which people you need to avoid, what choices to make that will set you up for the greatest success. Most people have an “Aha!” moment during this process that frankly can be liberating.
I’ve mentioned that especially for salespeople, it’s important to understand that YOU are the commodity. People don’t just buy products, they buy and invest in the people selling them those products because they like you, trust you and can connect with you, even when they might save a few dollars going to someone else. So, if you don’t know yourself well, it’s hard to be comfortable with yourself in front of others, and that my friend will negatively impact your ability to succeed no matter what your business is.
Most people run or hide when it comes to looking deep inside ones self. It’s not pleasant to talk about your shortcomings and faults, but we all have them. I know I did. I also chose to fight it because of fear; simply put I was scared to let someone else know what goes on inside me. Author Seth Godin called it “inner resistance.”
We tend to hang onto our behaviors because they’re comfortable, but it’s the definition of insanity, as we keep doing the same things expecting a different result. And perhaps that worked, once, but things change, and we need to reexamine what we need to do differently - better - to be more than just average.
Funny thing is, whenever we work hard to conceal our shortcomings, we reveal them the most. It’s best to bring them out into the open.
Think about it. If someone wrongs you in some way, and apologizes sincerely for it, I doubt you will hold a grudge against that person. They admitted they were wrong, which shows a lot of courage and humility, and that is a positive quality. If they go the extra step to somehow right the wrong, that’s even more telling about their integrity.
Funny, once i did let go, things started to change, just like they do when someone admits their faults. The good news is that this process doesn’t end here, and it’s not about dwelling on your negative characteristics.
Just as importantly - and truthfully more enjoyable - is understanding what your true strengths are. This discovery really helps people to focus on areas of their business that they know they can excel in, and that helps them prioritize their time. I mean, why spend hours in an area that won’t bring you results, when you could capitalize on your strengths and gifts that likely come easier to you, with far greater results.
Strengths generally have deeper roots than simply being things you’re good at. They are hard-wired into your personality...they come naturally. Some people call those things gifts v. skills, and I’d agree. What makes us all unique is our pool of gifts, and in personal development, it’s exciting when people really identify those gifts as such. The job then becomes how we can tap into that gift to lift you into being great.
It’s suggested that if you are “average” at a task, it’s likely because part of what’s required for that task you do extremely well, and other parts terrible. When you can identify and separate the two, you can then kill off the weak parts. Again, this takes some self-awareness to review and it’s difficult for many people to admit what they aren’t good at.
I’ve referred to personal development as the “inside game.” Confidence, integrity, honesty - all of that comes from within, and it will never come for webinars or books. This is the hard work that must be done to improve your outward relationships with coworkers, clients, friends - even your spouse. It completely sets the tone for everything you do in your life.
Knowing yourself in an honest and open way leads to success because you learn about the most important product in any business transaction - you - to make it the most appealing to your customer. And as things always change, the process of personal development needs to be continual. However, when you have already gone through the process in a honest way, revisiting it becomes that much easier . Trust me, you’re worth it.