Awareness, Accountability and Responsibility, Part 1

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Awareness, Accountability and Responsibility, Part 1

The three pillars of performance are awareness, accountability and responsibility. We cannot fix, improve or develop something of which we are unaware. If we are unaware that we do not lift our racket high enough on the serve, or that our demeanour appears cold and hostile to some people, or that prioritising the urgent over the important is jeopardising our chances of achieving our goals, we are helpless to change them. Sir John Whitmore wrote, “I am able to control only that which I am aware of. That which I am unaware of controls me. Awareness empowers me. No two human minds or bodies are the same. How can I tell you how to use yours? Only you can discover how, with awareness.”  Profound words indeed. That which I am unaware of controls me! How much is there, of which we are (blissfully) unaware? We may be unaware of certain facts, like the bigger an organisation gets the more complex it becomes, that growth sucks cash, that managing millennials is different to managing 50 somethings. We may be unaware of behaviours like when we get stressed we become more domineering, or more scared and impotent; when we are enthused we listen less and shout more; or that our ability to read the signals from others is poor or badly calibrated. Being unaware limits us, controls us, renders us stuck. Conversely “awareness is curative”. Once we become aware of something, human nature and inventiveness is able to kick in and we can often adapt and develop our behaviour quite naturally and independently in a more helpful and productive fashion. Those moments we refer to as ‘light bulb moments’ or ‘Aha!’ moments are moments when we have become suddenly and unexpectedly aware of something that we were previously unaware of. We are surprised and startled by the discovery and in that moment of startle we often make a decision to behave differently in the future. Sometimes the epiphany that is a ‘light bulb moment’ is all the more surprising because we feel that somewhere in our being we already were aware; that we already knew that. This will be the difference between being unconsciously aware and consciously aware. Unconscious awareness is fine but conscious awareness allows us to think, reflect and choose. Often, as a coach, it is my role to take something in the client’s unconscious thought process and allow them the time and the space to hold it up to the light of conscious scrutiny and to make conscious choices based on a heightened awareness. After such conversations I am often met with the words “it is just common sense” and it is but common sense isn’t that common and common sense is rarely common practice. When we know something it is obvious. It is clear. When we don’t it is an impenetrable mystery. When I use the phrase “We don’t know what we don’t know” I am often referring to the fact that we aren’t aware of what we aren’t aware of. How could we be? Tiger Woods said that he retained his coaches because he couldn’t see his own swing. None of us can. How many things are there do you think in your life that you are unaware of and that being unaware of renders you helpless and stuck? Of course you can’t answer that question but imagine how different you might find things if your awareness was to be suddenly and accurately increased? How much closer to your true potential could you soar? How much more easily and effortlessly could you navigate the seas of life and business? Awareness, accountability and responsibility are the pillars of performance and it all starts with awareness.

Some clients have asked that I append some reading recommendations to my weekly blog. I hope you get value from the books I recommend. The books are mentioned at random and will have no relationship to the blog above.

The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack

This book should be on the shelves of every business owner. It tells the true story of Jack’s turnaround of an engine reconditioning plant. Like the backdrop it is industrial, tough talking and very straightforward.The back cover talks about the power of open book management  and the whole book serves as a blueprint for getting the whole team involved in the business and in the numbers of the business. Although now over 20 years old the lessons are as relevant and as important now as they ever were.

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