To Succeed, Get to Know This Person…

You.

Before you click off this page, this is not an overview of the myriad personality and skill tests, or complicated analyses that are popular.  I believe in those and have been an advocate of them for specific purposes for decades; however, I believe they basically affirm what you already know if you follow the message here.

You are the product of the experiences you’ve had, the people you’ve met, the lessons you’ve learned…you are the sum of incredible input and output.  Just like a pond stays “alive” by the flow of water—without input and output, the pond stagnates—you are have been formed, molded, changed and developed over the course of your years.  Pause and realize who that person is.  Know THAT person.

While those influences have filled you with both known and untold knowledge, strength and wisdom, it has also helped shape your quirks, foibles, flaws and weaknesses.  There is no shame in that; welcome to the human race!  Know THAT person.

Along the way, you have adopted, shed, and adapted values and priorities.  You are not static, but a dynamic, changing person because of influences, both profound and sublime.  Know THAT person.

It takes a lifetime of study and awareness to get to know something as complicated as you.  One of the greatest tools is listening.

Over the decades of management, leadership, team development, photography instruction, writing instruction and coaching, I have said roughly a gazillion times to my team members, volunteers and students, “Did you hear what you just said?”  Invariably, when I pose that question, the target of the query will reply, “No.  What did I say.”  When repeated back to them, they hear something sublime or profound, awakening or affirming…they hear their Selves.

People have a hard enough time listening to other people, so it is easy to understand why people don’t listen to themselves either.  Listen critically, listen deeply, listen actively.  Don’t be your own sycophant.  Know THAT person.

A great way to listen is to read your own thoughts.  All the books that I have written benefitted from notes, journal entries, letters—all manner of written forms—that pre-dated the books by months, years and decades.  Another is to listen to what others share about you.  The people who love you most genuinely may call you hardheaded or mercurial (or other less-than-perfect terms), but they love you nonetheless.  Don’t expect yourself to be perfect.  Be real.  Be authentic.  Know THAT person.

Success will come your way because once you know the person in the mirror, you can better understand and work with the people around you—family, friends, colleagues, strangers.  They too have thoughts, wisdom, strengths, weaknesses and so forth.  Help them know the person in their own mirror.

Living is a group effort.  Succeed by knowing THAT person first.

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