One of my partners asked me to share what I think are some qualities of a successful businessperson. I reduced it to one quality actually: self-awareness. I then recommended the development of what I call L-Skills: Listening, Losing, Leveraging, Learning and Leading.

Self-awareness is critical consciousness of who you are, what you are capable of and what you are doing; critical because you must interrogate it and conscious because you must manage the focus on your vision and state of being. It is important to learn to detect what is on you and what is on the world; take responsibility and action for what is within your power and control and be at peace with the rest.

So, how can you improve self-awareness? Through personal development. Research shows, particularly for people in developing countries, that personal development is a critical success factor for entrepreneurship, even more so than business training. You can always outsource business functions, but the core of what you want to accomplish, which is the basis of being a successful entrepreneur is becoming better at being the best you; because in the initial stage, you are your business is an extension of your brand.

Once you become actively self-aware, you attain a pretty good handle on what you can do effectively, what is worthwhile and what you need to collaborate with others to achieve. This is critical in entrepreneurship.

Let us talk about these ‘L’ Skills that I think will help build self-awareness.

  1. Listening is crucial. Broadly speaking, it allows you to tune into and align your endeavours to the demands of your target audience, the market or the environment. Many people fail in business because they are just disconnected from external realities; often no one wants what they are selling.
  2. Losing is another important skill. You must be a good sport. You must let go of petty aspirations and ambitions because they can compromise great potential. You also must come to terms with the reality that the game of success is riddled with losses. It is a part of the process. Losing makes winning more meaningful and significant. Often, you must lose to win.
  3. Leverage is using what you have – your strengths, abilities, resources, connections, ideas, etc. We are never really at zero of everything at once. Whatever you have, use it to maximize your outcomes.
  4. Learning is the skill of the millennium. Psychology defines learning as a change in behaviour because of experience or knowledge. It is very important to change your mind, strategy, tactics, and operations, based on your experience and available insights. Change is hard but it is insane to continue to do what does not work or not do what works.
  5. Leading is a big deal. Sometimes you must step out from the pack and do your thing. In essence, pursue your vision, even if you are the only one who gets it. If this is a valid endeavour, people will follow suit. Lead yourself to your vision and just maybe others will help you get there.

What do you think and self-awareness and the ‘L’ skills? Please share who you think are some of the qualities of good businesspersons.


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