Know Yourself – Or Else. By Hiroshi Mikitani

How well do you know yourself?

You may think that you of all people would be the one to know yourself best, but human beings are often quite mistaken at this assumption. I’m sure we all know of someone who makes this mistake – an individual who considers himself a sharp negotiator, but in fact, misses important details. A manager who fancies himself tough but is really too lax. This is a common human problem.

Of course, no one is perfect. We all have areas in which we excel and those in which we lag. But the key to success is knowing the areas in which you are strong and the areas in which you are weaker. When you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can position yourself to be as successful as possible in any given situation.

The key to success is not perfection. It’s knowing yourself. How to do this?

  1. Develop metrics to constantly test your ideas. How are your innovation skills? Are you good at coming up with a great new idea or do your plans lack elements of success? You will never know this by simply turning over the thought in your own mind. Instead, develop metrics to test your ideas. Think, launch and measure. This is how you will know the value of your own intuition.
  2. Find someone to play catch with. While we all may spend time thinking about our own ideas, how often do we take these ideas out for discussion with others? An outside perspective will help you see yourself more clearly. Many successful people have a variety of individuals with whom they can play “catch.” They can go to these individuals and toss an idea back and forth to see how it flies. This is more than a brainstorming process. This is a way you can better see yourself and your process. When you get feedback from an outsider, you can look at your own efforts with better clarity.
  3. Look at your life backwards. We tend to look ahead in life. This is a natural human tendency. We are always looking to the next big event, the next opportunity, the next stroke of luck. But to better know yourself, try looking at your life in reverse. Imagine that you are writing your own obituary –w hat does it say? What are the areas that you look back on with regret? This is an exercise that will expose the successes you’ve already had and the areas in which you need to improve.

If you fail to know yourself well, you miss opportunities for self-improvement. That may leave you stalled while others who are more self-aware fill in their skill gaps, improve their own performance efforts, and pass you by.

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