One commenter asked about how to improve self-awareness. The reality is that we all hold on to some beliefs that are not true. Be it someone we think is a great contact (that really doesn’t like us) or a view of the world that isn’t accurate and is based on life experience. The best example of the latter is how a beautiful girl generally thinks people are “nicer” than unattractive women (yes the same applies to men as well). Why? Well good looking people are treated differently in general which creates a warped world view of what it is like for the general population. With that back drop we can go through the key ways to *limit* incorrect beliefs.
Avoid Giving a Lot of Opinions: Unless you’re certain you’ll be proven to be right over time or you’re certain that you’re the expert within the context of the group, there is no reason to stand out. The best example of this is sports. Why? Well un-athletic people routinely give advice on how professional sports players should “adjust” their game. They couldn’t even earn a spot on the bench but somehow they believe their ideas are better. This same concept applies to any sort of performance based advice. Before giving any advice on a performance based topic ask if you have any relevant experience.
Why is this a good way to be self-aware? Well this is how humans generally think. If you are in a group ask yourself where you “rank” and why you’re there. People get upset about this comment since everyone believes “they have the right to an opinion”. Unfortunately they don’t. The most extreme example is a person who is the least successful in the room in every aspect: fitness, money, dating etc. They are worse than every single person in the room on all metrics… yet continue to vocalize strong opinions. This is a quick way to be put back into their place instantly.
This is also why successful people generally flock together. If someone is successful it is unlikely that they have the same skills as their successful friends. One may have gotten rich through sales, another through software development… another through real estate… so on and so forth. The reason why these individuals speak with one another is because they have a different perspective to offer. They have some mutual respect (all are rich) and there is *always* overlap when it comes to making money. So if three different people in different industries meet, they can exchange real ideas.
Before moving on, we realize this is hypocritical given that we run a blog (see self-awareness!). The one thing you won’t see is us blabbing about topics we really don’t know. We get questions about International business (we never answer), questions about places we have never lived (we never answer and only provide perspective based on visits) and we get questions on different business models (we only answer if we know we can add something). Over time, this reduces some of the “market potential” but it sure beats making stuff up. In short, step one is being careful about broadcasting opinions. Be honest about where you sit in the group/room.
What is Gained? This is probably the fastest way to improve your self-perception and awareness. Before doing anything ask yourself quickly in your head “what is gained?”. If the answer is nothing, simply stop it. There is no point in getting into arguments when it’s only going to create downside for you. The only time you want to speak up/become the center is when it will benefit you. Here are some examples of doing it correctly and doing it incorrectly.
If you are in front of a bunch of people who are significantly better than you it is best to avoid “boasting” without immediate proof. In fact, boasting in general won’t help you as everyone in the room knows you’re worse than them. Instead you will only gain “points” by pointing out where someone is good when they are really mediocre. Why does this work? Well 99% of successful people are insecure and constantly trying to improve their weak points. So if you say they are good at something (when they are just okay) they will generally have a higher perception of you. Is it lying? Not really. You are saying “hey looks like you’re doing well here” which is quite encouraging if you know they have been working on improving XYZ for a few months/years. As we all know, improving at something usually just leads to haters so you want to do the opposite (encourage growth/improvement).
The second biggest example of “what is gained” is attending specific events in the first place. It shocks us when we see people go to events without having any value to add. These people are just praying for a “lucky break” where they stand in a room with billionaires and one suddenly makes them rich. This is a fairy tale that works less than 0.001% of the time. Sure it “does” happen (just see gold diggers). But. The general rule is that you only want to enter a room where you have something to offer. The art of this game of finding ways to “gain” from an interaction is underpinned by finding the right events. Remember that sentence as its excruciatingly important. Even if you’re invited to a top-end event, be sure you have something to bring to the table besides tap water otherwise you’re wasting your own time.
Look for Clues: This is a *lifelong skill* we cannot emphasize this enough. You have to look at every person including yourself and build a mosaic to figure out where you stand with someone else and what they think of you. If you figure out that there is a theme (they dislike XYZ about you) then that’s probably your fault. If you figure out they have a character flaw (they go out of their way to damage people’s lives) it’s your job to avoid them. In no particular order here are some obvious cues in various situations.
“We’ll call you if we’re interested” – You did not get the sale, don’t waste your time. They don’t want more email back and forth so they are shutting down the interaction
“How much do you think was luck?” – This person does not like you. They think your success was not due to skill but due to some other random act of chance. Best to avoid building a relationship here.
“I really don’t care what anyone thinks” – This person is usually rich and is really saying “you’re wasting my time”. If they make these statements and you keep bothering them they are more likely to blackball you. You have hurt your relationship with the person but it is fixable. It means your angle was wasting his/her time. Generally speaking, someone not caring = you’re wasting their time as the topic isn’t interesting
“We all can’t be winners” hard one to read. The person either likes you or hates you. Think very carefully about the context here.
“Don’t be so angry/upset all the time” This person absolutely hates you. It means they don’t like that you’re successful so they have to come up with something to make themselves feel better about their own lives. Write this one down as it has a 95% hit rate.
“Nice meeting you” Translated this means, thanks for wasting my time. It’s a polite way of saying, we’re out of here and don’t contact us. The only exception is a phone number exchange then it’s a sign of saying “lets keep in contact”. We’re referring to verbally saying the whole thing
“You’re looking sharp” Unless you’re getting this comment every week, you’re not good at being well dressed. This is a reality for people who know how to wear the right colors and patterns. Now an important thing to note is that if a guy says it (business acquaintance) it means they have some level of respect for you. This is a positive sign but don’t read too much into it. If a woman says it, this has a similar meaning “you’re maximizing your look”. It does *not* mean that she’s interested. But. At minimum since she stated this, she’d be fine if her friend was interested in you. You’d pass the “impression test” so to speak.
There are many many more of these hints, if readers are interested we’ll do a full post on what certain messages mean. They are never 100% accurate but have a high hit rate, we’ll call it 75-80%. This is consistent enough to go ahead and make assumptions since you’ll never be 100% sure about anything. For example if someone gives you the “do you think it was luck” combined with “don’t be so upset” we’ll go ahead and bet the house that this person despises you/dislikes you. Sure there will be 1% of the time where it isn’t true as context is everything. But. Hit rate will be extremely high.
Build That Portfolio of Information! So we’ve given you a few steps, avoiding giving opinions unless you know the room will at least respect your idea (something to back it up). Look for clues on who in the group dislikes you/has respect for you. And. Always ask yourself, what is gained before doing any activity (both verbal or physically attending new events). Unless you can get a neutral or positive reaction… It is best to avoid entirely.
By consistently doing these three things, you’ll build a mosaic around where you’re good and bad. If you find that you’re having trouble getting dates, you should clearly ignore fake complements about being an “attractive guy” as it doesn’t match the results. If people say you’re “smart” but you’re making nothing financially, they are just blowing smoke to make you feel better temporarily. If people never go out of their way to give specific complements on a particular task… full stop… you’re not good at it.
That last part would be the main thing to remember when building your own personal mosaic. There are really three categories: 1) dating, 2) money and 3) maximizing your physical looks. If you’re not getting explicit positive remarks on all three, it means you’re by definition, not good at one of them. Does this mean it will last forever? No. But. It means you certainly need to improve in that area. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to “overcompensate” by becoming ultra-good at just two categories. This actually makes you fail in the other activity as the difference between your skills in two areas are clearly coming at the expense of another area.
Starting From Scratch: If you’re reading this and noticing that some of these are not occurring (no complements on your girlfriend’s looks, no comments on being well off for your age, no comments on being sharply dressed), here is how we would start. We would start by fixing the money issue first as that is the hardest (should take only a few years), we would simultaneously fix the wardrobe as this only takes a year or so of effort and finally we would go down the attractive girlfriend route. Yes. As usual, dating is the last priority for anyone under the age of 30. If you’re already rich, then you can cool off on the money chasing (if you’re a multi-millionaire for example) and just improve social skills and your wardrobe.
Keeping it simple, unless people are going out of their way to comment specifically on what you’re good at… that area is lacking 100%!