I was skimming through Hacker News (it’s recently become one of my daily must reads) the other day and a comment caught my eye, someone said something along the lines of “that would require the creator to have been truly self-aware.” A few days later I read another comment where someone was lauding a Ted talk for the presenters keen sense of self-awareness .
It got me thinking do we need to become more self-aware? As web developers we often think we are incredibly self-aware. Unfortunately we are not. Ok, ok, most of us aren’t, a select few of us are happily self aware, they are known as outliers in statistics. What I mean is, the vast majority of us think we know what we can do, think we know what we’re good at, and also think we know what others are capable of. We also think that everyone around us thinks the same way we do, that has the same problems we do, that has the same needs we do.
” Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer”. Peter Drucker
Some might argue that not knowing your limits is what allows us to make incredible discoveries and break the status quo. This might be applicable in science, but I’d argue that it isn’t necessarily the case in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not a solo pursuit despite it typically being portrayed that way. Why is it ultimately not a solo activity? Well you aren’t building a business in a vacuum are you? You aren’t building a product to then sell to yourself.
Entrepreneurship is about knowing what you’re good at, what your technical, strategic, or intellectual advantages are, and profiting from it (what are your arbitrage opportunities?). Learning about yourself and defining your skills typically requires also learning about your market, which is another key skill to address in business.
Learning self-awareness is like doing market research. Test your assumptions, both about yourself and your business.
To paraphrase Peter Drucker, a famous executive “focus on your improving your weaknesses, and at best you’ll be average, focus on improving your strengths, and you’ll be remarkable.”