Archive for July, 2012

Elite athletes encounter many of the same mental challenges that successful entrepreneurs face on a daily basis, according to JoAnn Dahlkoetter, a sports and performance psychologist in San Carlo, Calif. She should know. In addition to coaching business leaders, Dahlkoetter currently counts five Olympic gold medalists as her clients. She finds that many of the same strategies athletes use to outwit mental obstacles work in business as well. Here’s her advice for overcoming three of the most vexing psychological challenges, whether you’re a startup or established entrepreneur looking to grow.

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How Leaders Become Self-Aware

A plethora of people, courses, and self-help guides profess to lead you by the hand to the promised land of business success. The problem is that things are always messier than the how-to’s make them out to be. This is why it is often better to consider less the specifics and more the principles and qualities that bring success.

In my experience — and in the research my co-authors and I did for our new book, Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck — there is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.

Without self-awareness, you cannot understand your strengths and weakness, your “super powers” versus your “kryptonite.” It is self-awareness that allows the best business-builders to walk the tightrope of leadership: projecting conviction while simultaneously remaining humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions. The conviction (and yes, often ego) that founders and CEOs need for their vision makes them less than optimally wired for embracing vulnerabilities or leading with humility. All this makes self-awareness that much more essential.

That self-awareness is a critical factor for business-building success is not a new insight. The tougher code to crack is how to become more self-aware. Here are three key ways to do so…

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