Step four: Knowing yourself
Taking a moral inventory of your life is the fourth step in my series of 12 suggestions for how to “turnaround” your business. All of these steps can serve as reminders for business owners and their employees who want to make their companies more successful. This step deals with facing inner truths about yourself and your business, and seeing what is blocking you from reaching your true potential.
By facing our own character defects — we all have them — we can uncover truths about ourselves and discover the real reasons why our businesses, careers or even our marriages are failing. Our problems are often due to our own ego, selfishness and self-centeredness. In most instances, we play the “blame game” and say our failure is due to an outside source: “It’s those guys who are at fault.” For example, “It’s the bank’s fault. It never lets me have enough to get over this hump.” Making excuses and blaming others never requires us to look inside for answers. We’re looking out the window at the neighbor’s house when it’s our own that needs a good interior cleaning.
I recently watched an episode of the classic TV comedy “The Office.” In the episode, a hotshot salesman from a competing company “steals” all of Dunder Mifflin’s clients, so Michael Scott decides to conduct a “sting” operation to find out what secrets this salesman is using to entice their customers away.
When the sting operation fails, Michael decides to steal the hotshot salesman from the competition, but that doesn’t work either. It never occurs to him the answer might be to train his own employees better. Michael looks outside his own company for answers rather than recognize there is a deficit within (not to mention he was inept). This episode is especially funny because all good comedies are based on real human experiences, flaws or fallibilities.
To better understand ourselves and examine our true motives, we can fill out a moral inventory sheet. It is available online and can help guide us through self-inventory. It is an exercise essential to the next eight steps. It helps us come face-to-face with our own secrets, inner fears and desires. In the process, we build up an accurate self-appraisal. The reward is great, and we realize our true self-worth rather than a fictional characterization of ourselves. In business, this self-examination and realization helps us focus on the real needs of our business so we can better identify the internal problems and work to solve them as organization leaders.
The self-inventory addresses and identifies our fear, pride, resentment/anger, self-will and self-pity, guilt/shame, relationships, sex/ abuse, secrets and assets. You must approach the questions fearlessly, because your honesty and forthrightness are keys to accurate introspection. You can focus on events, people or other things in your life that trigger resentment or negativity. You can explore instances in which you felt sadness, regret, anger, bitterness, fear, love or joy. You can also explore how your own behavior contributed to those feelings and how it affected your life and the lives of others.
I suggest you take time to complete the self-inventory and create a journal. Do not try to speed through it; it is not an hour-long test or exercise. You need to allow time for its “prompts” to take you back to those original thoughts, feelings, experiences and reactions. You can also explore what healthy relationships look like to you.
You may say, “This sounds like a lot of nonsense to me.” But as far as business is concerned, a business is built on relationships — relationships with your employees, suppliers, customers, financial advisers or bankers, and colleagues, whether they might be your mentors, industry organizations or others. Then there is your family. You need a healthy relationship with your family, because they can be an asset to your business as well. I encourage you to take a self-inventory and put aside any excuses.
Also published in BIC magazine.
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