Family Business Matters 07/14 11:03
Self-Awareness: The Foundation for Success
Understanding yourself and your effect on others pays big dividends.
By Lance Woodbury
DTN Farm Business Adviser
I'm often asked if there are predictors of family business success. In other
words, if a family performs certain actions, is it likely to keep the farm or
ranch intact for future generations? To that end, many of these columns have
focused on certain perspectives of legacy, various relationship-management
strategies or particular communication skills that enhance family working
I'm asked less frequently about whether there is a key skill or behavior
that an individual family member should possess to enhance chances of family
success. The family's success is, in many ways, predicated on the ability of
family members to relate effectively to each other. And, if there is one skill
that I see present in family members who are working well together in business
and in families that seem to be handling the transition well, that skill is
self-awareness: awareness of one's values, goals, strengths and weaknesses, and
awareness of one's impact on others.
THINK ABOUT SELF-AWARENESS
In her recent book "Insight," Tasha Eurich defines self-awareness as, "the
will and the skill to understand yourself and how others see you." In her
experience, people who "have a clear understanding of themselves enjoy more
successful careers and better lives -- they've developed an intuitive
understanding of what matters to them, what they want to accomplish, how they
behave and how others see them."
My experience in working with family businesses is similar. Family members
who are tuned in to their motivations and have some sense of their impact on
others seem better able to navigate the complexities of ownership, management
and family relationships.
Eurich offers seven "pillars" that comprise self-awareness, suggesting that
you consider the following elements in your own life:
1. What are your values? What principles guide your life?
2. What is your passion? Are you doing what you love to do?
3. What are your goals and aspirations? Are you achieving the milestones and
experiences that create meaning for you?
4. What is your ideal environment? What setting is best for your family and
5. What are your patterns of thought, your recurring feelings and your
consistent behaviors? What can they teach you about yourself?
6. What are your reactions to events or circumstances? What do they reveal
(good or bad) about your capabilities?
7. What impact do you have on others?
While some might find it easy to reflect on personal motivation, it often is
much more difficult to judge how others perceive you. Eurich suggests you need
feedback from others to complete your picture of self-awareness.
Seeking feedback means receiving information that sometimes is hard to hear.
If your trust level is low in the family business, this may be difficult; but,
if there are people whose opinions you value and respect, then you should
consider various methods to ascertain their perceptions.
Consider setting an appointment to get feedback or asking for individual
feedback through an email or letter. Ask people to comment on what they see as
your distinct and useful contribution, and what you could be doing better. The
very act of asking for feedback will likely be encouraging to those around you,
but it's important to show people you are sincere in your request, and you
intend to use the feedback to become more self-aware.
Self-awareness may not be the first topic when you think of family business
success, but I can attest to its power when a family is working together and
planning for the future. The investment you make today in better understanding
yourself and your effect on others will pay dividends in your family business
well into the future.
Editor's note: Write Lance Woodbury at Family Business Matters, 2204
Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email: email@example.com.
Copyright 2017 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.
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