ASSESSING YOUR RESSOURCES
No good General goes into battle without first assessing his Strengths and Weaknesses and knowing where he is vulnerable. But a General doesn't just quickly glance over his troops and say, 'Yep, that looks about right - let's go to war.' Instead, he goes through each division and each type of weapon and works out how effective they're going to be given the terrain and the state of the enemy. Likewise, you need to do more than just cast a quick eye over yourself. You need to get what I call an Independent Audit of your Strengths and Weaknesses. And once you have that audit you need to see the results clearly in front of you each day in your Winner's Bible. That way you'll make the most of your Strengths and avoid tripping up on your Weaknesses.
Being able to accurately assess your Weaknesses and knowing what to do about them is one of the key Skills possessed by all Winners. It is a theme repeated time and again in business, sport and life in general. Many a boxer won a bout simply because they realized they were vulnerable to their opponent's most devastating punch and used that knowledge to position themselves so they were never hit by it. They knew their Weakness and how to work around it.
If your life isn't going exactly as you want it to right now then it's highly likely you're doing something wrong - particularly if there's a recurring pattern to your behavior. Repeated patterns are usually a symptom that you have an underlying Weakness you're not aware of. Finding these Weaknesses and curing them is an incredibly exciting process because life suddenly has a new zing and good things just 'start to happen' to you again. And likewise, if you know your Strengths you'll be more likely to put them to work each day. Once you've fully understood your Strengths and Weaknesses you'll then be in a position to learn some of the special Mental Tools I use with my elite athletes... and to put them to work on yourself. But you need to know the diagnosis before you can choose the right Tool.
THE DISTORTED MIRROR
The reason why you need an Independent Audit is because none of us really see ourselves clearly or objectively. Princess Diana genuinely thought that no one really loved her or cared about her. Her feeling of low self-esteem was so intense that she even became bulimic in an attempt to improve her appearance and be loved more. And yet when she died, millions of flowers were laid all over England in a spontaneous expression of love and affection for her. It was probably the greatest outpouring of love that England has ever witnessed as an entire nation grieved. If only Diana could have seen how people really viewed her while she was alive!
In the same way you may not be fully aware of your own foibles or your own Strengths. It's like looking at yourself through a distorted mirror. So what's the solution? How can you see yourself as you really are?
THE ANONYMOUS ONLINE AUDIT
One answer is to have someone who knows you really well to give you some help. People like your family, best friends and work associates who you respect. But this poses two problems:
1. Your friends would have to be totally honest with you. Unfortunately that level of honesty risks upsetting your friendship. After all, how many friendships would survive if your closest friend says, 'You have a fat bum and need to lose 20 kgs'? Now think how much harder it's going to be for them to talk about the most intimate aspects of your personality.
2. Your friends need to take this exercise very seriously. They need to think this over and not just give you some superficial answer. What you're looking for is genuine insight from them but that's rare to find. And questionnaires and rating scales typically used by psychologists just aren't going to be adequate for this either. After all, if you get a rating of 6/10 on a scale of zero (introvert) to ten (extrovert) this doesn't help you at all. You can be a Winner at either end of the scale. And besides, what do you do with a score of six anyway? Feedback is only valuable if you can do something with it and make some sort of change to your life.
Fortunately, I've thought about both problems and have come up with a solution for you.
The first problem is solved if your friends give you feedback in such a way that you never know which of them said any particular comment. In other words, if their feedback was totally anonymous.
Here's how it works. You invite a minimum of five people to provide feedback about you - there is no maximum. We'll call these people that you've invited your 'Auditors'. Each Auditor then writes a series of short paragraphs about you on a special confidential part of the Winner's Bible website (www.winnersinstitute.co.uk). The website then automatically combines the feedback from each of your Auditors into a single report about you. Because you only get to see this final report when at least four of your Auditors have finished, you won't know who said what about you. The key to making this work is that the comments from the different Auditors are combined in such a way that it doesn't just end up in a big mess.
But rest assured, everything is totally confidential. All e-mail addresses and comments from your friends will be encrypted and protected in the same way that bank details are. No one at The Winner's Bible Inc will ever see what has been written about you. None of your Auditors get to see what anyone else has written either. You are the only person to see the final report. Don't worry if you don't understand how this works yet because the process will become a little clearer in a minute.
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The second problem is solved if your Auditors are given powerful instructions which challenge them to think about you in a deep and detailed way. Then they need to have the option to not only describe your Strengths and Weaknesses, but to also tell you what they think you should do about those Strengths and Weaknesses.
The best way to explain how this works is to give you a real life example.
THE LONELY WOMAN
I was visited by a highly intelligent woman in her mid-forties. She was attractive and outgoing with a wide range of interests. But despite all her obvious charms she had been single for many years and just couldn't seem to find the right guy. As part of my consultation with her, I asked her to undergo an anonymous Independent Audit. One of the responses that came back said she had an annoying habit of 'talking over people'. When people were halfway through their sentence she'd interrupt them and either finish off their sentence for them, or start her own sentence. Her independent auditor said this made her sound aggressive, as if she knew everything. It was as if she was trying to prove her point all the time. Talking with her felt like 'hard work' and people could never just relax and chill out.
This feedback was a complete surprise to my client. She was a nice woman with a genuinely kind and caring soul. She always meant well and had no idea other people thought she came across as 'hard'. But it was true. She was always interrupting. I don't think I finished a single sentence during our first consultation either. After a little probing we discovered this was a symptom of a deeper problem inside her History or Psychology Pillars (see Chapter 4). It transpired that her mother was a highly successful businesswoman who had achieved her success by constantly pushing herself to the limit and never being satisfied with her own performance. She was a solo mother and wanted her daughter to be even more successful. So she reasoned that if self-discipline was successful for her then she would double it for my client. As a result, my client's childhood was based on a never-ending criticism of her errors coupled with harsh penalties for failure. Not surprisingly, she grew up feeling she was 'never good enough'. Now, even though she was a top corporate executive with three first class degrees after her name, she still unconsciously felt the need to 'prove herself' all the time. In conversations she always had to prove she was the smartest, that she knew what the other person was thinking and that she had the perfect answer. Because she was in the top 1% of the population for IQ, she could usually work out what the other person was going to say long before they finished their sentence and she was only too anxious to give the 'clever' reply. This had a devastating impact on her socially. As I said, inside she was a kind, warm and genuinely caring woman but she came across as arrogant and 'hard work' - as her Independent Audit revealed.
Once she realized what was going on, and once we'd dealt with the emotional issues unwittingly left in her History Pillar by her mother, her life was transformed. People suddenly started calling her up. She was invited to more dinner parties and social events. And as fate would have it, she met her soul mate at one of these parties and they've lived happily ever after since. All because she found out something about herself that she hadn't known for forty years - by taking an anonymous Online Audit.
This example also illustrates why standard psychological questionnaires or assessments are never going to work. You're never going to have a questionnaire that is going to cover every possible issue like 'talking over people'. This means you need a system that is incredibly flexible and yet probes deep inside a person with laser focus. That's what your Auditors will get if they use the Winner's Bible Online Audit.
They'll be given clear, simple instructions along with two examples like the one I just mentioned which will encourage them to think 'outside the box'. Then they'll have space to write everything down in a series of self-contained paragraphs. Each paragraph has to contain a single Strength or Weakness along with any suggestions corresponding to that self-contained thought. There is no limit to the length of each paragraph. Each Auditor can fill out as many or as few paragraphs as they like. Once all the Auditors have finished, the paragraphs are randomly mixed together to produce a single report. But it still makes sense because each paragraph is self-contained.
All you need to do is go to the Winner's Bible website and everything is taken care of for you. You'll get clear, simple instructions on what you need to do and so will your invited Auditors, if they choose to participate. Check out the website now and you'll see what I mean.
Before you invite anyone to be one of your Auditors you need to think very carefully about whether they are the right person. Just because someone is a real fun person and a great friend of yours doesn't necessarily qualify them to be a good judge of your character. They might only know you in a light-hearted, superficial way or they may not be people who are themselves developed enough to undertake this analysis correctly. What you're really after is someone who has:
• Enough exposure to you when you are in various situations - particularly when you are under stress or need to make choices
• Enough insight to see deep inside you and understand what drives you and causes you to do what you do. This means they need to be people of a certain level of emotional and intellectual sophistication
As you consider who to put on your list you might even want to think outside the box and ask an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to participate. After all, they've experienced both the good and the bad times with you. And because they now have some distance from you they might think more objectively about you. Of course, this all depends on whether or not you are both at peace with each other.
You might also want an opinion from a brother or sister, a parent or son/daughter. Another good group of people to consider are your work colleagues - and not just your boss. You want people who know how you react when you're under pressure, when you're ticked off or bored and disinterested. When you say or do things when you're not on show. When you react to people you don't like working with. The point here is that you can get as many different opinions as you like. You don't have to restrict yourself to five people. In fact, that's the minimum you can choose. There is no maximum.
The quality of the people you choose will be directly reflected in the quality of the feedback you receive.
While you're waiting for your friends to complete your Online Audit it's a good opportunity for you to complete an audit on yourself. You'll find it very interesting to compare your own evaluation with your friends' observations. While you're doing this it's important to think as widely as you possibly can about yourself. The Lonely Woman and her conversational Skills is a good example of how wide you need to cast your net. To help you think laterally, the Winner's Bible website contains a list of Strengths and Weaknesses for you to consider.
Another important microscope for looking inside your character is to list your Repeated Mistakes. Even though Repeated Mistakes are related to your Weaknesses they are slightly different. Mistakes are negative things you keep doing over and over again. Maybe you trust people too much or you're a bad judge of character. Maybe you keep falling in love with 'bad guys' who are initially attractive but ultimately hurt you and don't help you grow. Maybe it's the exact opposite - you fall in love with great people but because they are so good to you, perhaps you end up taking them for granted and treating them badly. Maybe you rush off at 200 km/h into a new project without doing your homework properly and then in five months time you've run out of steam and all that work and effort amounts to nothing.
Repeated Mistakes come in many different flavors and cover categories such as relationships, finance, work, recreation and so on. So take an A5 sheet of paper and write on it what you think are your five greatest Strengths, your five greatest Weaknesses and any Repeated Mistakes you make.
Strengths and Weaknesses typically refer to aspects of your personality. It's just as important for you to assess the strength of your Skills and decide whether or not there are any holes in your arsenal. For example, in motor racing I've come across many drivers with exceptional Skill who can balance a car on the absolute knife edge of control, but who lack the technical knowledge to set-up the car's suspension or have the ability to find an optimal solution for a particular corner. Even though they're brilliant drivers, they are missing crucial Skills. At the lower level of motor sport this isn't a problem because they can just rely on their exceptional driving Skill to win. But at the top level of the sport they suddenly find everyone else has a similar level of car control, only now their opponents also have these additional Skills as well.
Maybe you're a businessman doing mergers and acquisitions and can zoom around a spreadsheet with your eyes closed but don't have a grasp of the changing political landscape. In this case, even though you can negotiate brilliant deals buying and selling companies based on their current value, perhaps one day you'll get caught out by a sudden shift in global politics. Maybe a sharp squeeze in global credit affects your consumers' spending patterns or maybe some government's action to reduce oil production suddenly squeezes your business from an unexpected direction. So take a moment to think of all the Skills you need to be successful in your business, your sport and in your everyday life and then write down the ones that you think could be improved and add them to the rest of your self-evaluation. By now you should have a list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Repeated Mistakes and Skills. As always, write them on an A5 page and put them into your Winner's Bible. In later sections, we'll show you exactly what to do with these.
My Five Greatest Strengths:
My Five Greatest Weaknesses:
Skills I need to Improve:
ALI'S PERFECT MIRROR
Before we look at how you're going to use your list of Strengths, Weaknesses and Repeated Mistakes to improve your life, it's worth pausing for a moment to remind ourselves why this exercise is so valuable. As is usually the case, we can learn a valuable lesson from Muhammad Ali. Prior to his famous fight with George Foreman in Zaire, Ali went into his usual training camp high in the mountains. He was surrounded by coaches, trainers, managers and physiotherapists. As part of his daily training regimen he'd spar with a number of top-ranked heavyweight contenders who were brought into the camp for a week at a time. After each session Ali would ask the guys he'd sparred with how they thought he was doing. The sparring partners always told Ali he was fast, powerful and skillful and for sure he was going to beat big George Foreman.
One day a new sparring partner arrived and after a tough training session Ali asked him the same question, 'How do you think I'm doing compared to George?' The new sparring partner replied, 'He's going to flatten you! He's too big and he's too strong. He'll take your punches no problem and then punish you. You just aren't powerful enough to hurt him.'
There was an immediate outcry from all the coaches and trainers in the room. 'Get that guy out of here! He's ruining our energy. We need to be positive and focused and have belief in ourselves. He's a negative influence.'
Ali held up his hand and told everyone to be quiet. 'Double his salary - he stays until he tells me I'm going to beat George.'
While Ali had the biggest mouth in the business and an Unshakeable Belief in his Optimal Future (see Chapter 12, 'An Unshakeable Belief In Yourself'), this wasn't at the expense of being able to accept his own Weaknesses and see who he really was. He evaluated his Weaknesses and then learned how to overcome them. Unfortunately, too many people live in a fantasy world of hype and self-belief that isn't grounded in reality. We see this at its worst on TV shows like X Factor, Pop Idol and American Idol where people like Robert Unwin come on stage with absolutely no talent whatsoever. They've dreamt without either taking stock of who they are or without having done the hard yards needed for skilled success. Fortunately, Robert was a charming and modest person who readily accepted the harsh but accurate criticism dealt to him by the show's host Simon Cowell. But the point is, a little genuine reflection from people close to Robert could have prevented him exposing his lack of singing talent in such a public manner and he could have concentrated on other more productive things in his life. That's why the anonymous Online Audit is so incredibly valuable. Too often our closest friends and family can't tell us things to our face because that's such an emotionally personal interaction. The eye contact, the look on your face, your immediate response. It's all just too hard for them. But the anonymous Independent Audit allows them to do this in a loving way without the emotion.
Conversely there are people like Paul Potts, a mobile phone salesman who came on to a show called Britain's Got Talent, totally lacking in confidence and self-esteem. He was so unsure of himself that he nearly cancelled his appearance. Yet he went on to display such incredible talent that he won the entire series and ended up signing a $2.4 million record contract. His performance was so moving that it reduced both the judges and the audience to tears. You can watch a replay on the following weblink:
It's an incredibly moving clip and guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes, so it's definitely worth attaching headphones to your computer before you watch it so you get the full impact (this clip is also posted on YouTube).
The point is, sometimes we're held back by not realizing our Weaknesses and sometimes we're held back by not realizing our Strengths. Paul Potts had lived a life of insecurity and low self-esteem until he was given accurate feedback from the judges. Once he had that feedback his life changed immediately and permanently. He became confident in his speech and he exuded a powerful energy in direct contrast to his previously shy demeanor.
THE UNEXAMINED LIFE
Socrates famously said, 'The unexamined life is not worth living.'
The rationale behind his words and the reason why you are going through this exercise of analyzing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Repeated Mistakes and Skills is because this gives you the chance to take control of your life and shape it. Unless you do this you'll just end up living a life that is shaped unwittingly and accidentally by external events. But if you examine your life and understand your actions then you'll have the opportunity to rise above chance and design your own life. Analysis is not the glamorous part of self-improvement, but it is the foundation on which you will build change. It is the platform that will allow you to grow and become an advanced soul, rather than an adult with a child's personality.