Know Yourself to Know Your Business
The following is an edited excerpt from the book, Unlearning Leadership: Know Yourself - Grow Your Business by Guy Bell.
We are all born curious, creative, and connected. From birth to death, we all share a similar arc of experience.
When we are first born, we only know what we feel. Depending on our environment, some of us hold onto this wisdom longer than others. However, at some point, life and the systems we create to control it reshape us.
From there, most of our journeys become focused on fitting in or getting ahead. In the process, you lose yourself. You forget yourself. You no longer feel.
For a few of you, this idea of not knowing yourself is odd. You may have successfully navigated the world without losing any part of your one-and-only self. You may have kept away from archetypes or playing roles enough to keep true to yourself.
The other 98 percent of us have not. There’s no reason to lie to yourself: you’re in good company if you’ve ever become different versions of yourself in different circumstances.
The only question is: how can you be true to your business if you’re not true to yourself?
It all starts with you!
How to Lose Yourself in Business
I came to the business world without any fears, in part because I had no goals to become anything; I was comfortable being me. And for many reasons, I really only cared about the health of the business and the experience of running it. The only other thing I cared about were the people I worked with, and the customers we got to know.
Being a student of life, I watched too many people fall victim to the common pitfalls of business leaders. They struggled to maintain their fully human selves — they forgot how to feel their experience.
These managers universally bought into the professional norms of “business as usual.” In their minds, by not being themselves, they were being managerial. It was sad to watch, really.
As I moved into top roles, I made a vow to continue being myself, despite the pressures to fall in line and play an expected role like they did. .
The problem with being myself in a world where most people were focused on being “professional” was the uncomfortable experiences of not fitting into the “club”. It felt like grade school all over again. Each time I simply suggested another approach without bravado or drew a different conclusion using more data and different insights than other leaders were using, my stock value visibly declined.
Note of caution: being outside the expected school of thought is not a path to longevity. Falling in line is.
Over time, I noticed that most people fought for the sake of fighting in business. They protected their turf through aggression and seemingly had no sense of the impact they had on those around them..
At first I took comfort in being myself. That changed over time. I got burnt out on being surrounded by all the outsized, ego-driven characters in business and those playing along to earn the top role someday. All this effort to protect or prove themselves covered up any evidence they were once aware of their true self.
Eventually, I grew tired of fighting against these “business as usual” types and tried my hand at falling in line..
That didn’t work! As it turns out, I’m not here to fall in line. And neither are you!! I’m here to change the way we come to business. I’m here to invite you into “being the change” and by choosing another way, we get unleash the full human potential. The simple truth is that by tapping into the full human potential, we meet the full business potential. There is one place to start,
Back to You
It matters where you focus! It matters what you invest in! You can’t successfully invest in anybody, or any business, without first investing in and focusing on yourself.
Who are you?
Your goal should be to become your one and only self. By doing so, you will humanize your business, and you will experience the potential that emerges throughout your company and beyond.
Every person really counts and every day matters. Will you choose today to go back to being your true self? Or will you put it off until tomorrow, and let the world suffer as a result?
The choice is yours, but only one of those choices results in you unleashing your curiosity, and connecting with other people in a creative way. Feel into your answer and see what emerges.
For more on how to create a more human business, pick up Unlearning Leadership: Know Yourself — Grow Your Business by Guy Bell.