Self-awareness, you either have it or you donâ€™t.
Thatâ€™s a true statement.
That doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t get it if you donâ€™t have it.
In fact, we are all born with a certain lack of self-awareness. If youâ€™ve ever seen a toddler who believes that by covering her eyes she becomes invisible because she canâ€™t see you. This is a definite lack of self-awareness we all have, then some of us grow out of it, some of us donâ€™t. To a degree anyway.
Simply becoming aware that you have no self-awareness is a huge step in the right direction; kind of like addiction, admitting you have a problem is 50% of the solution (or something like that).
A while back I wrote an article on awareness with regards to you, the artist, and how youâ€™re handling the music business.
This one is different.
Today weâ€™re going to dig into whether youâ€™re aware of how you handle yourself, how the world sees you, how you come off; essentially how you make other people feel.
When I was younger I was SERIOUSLY lacking self-awareness. Many of you know I was an artist. I toured with a hair band for about 7 years of my life.
I would be inside my own head at all times.
I would be thinking about God knows what, assessing the situation unfolding in front of me (and there were a lot of situations of every variety on the road with a hair band), thinking about my positioning, brooding about what just happened, reacting to what just happened, contemplating my next move, thinking about a joke I just heardâ€¦you get the picture.
There was a lot going on inside my head at all times. There still is.
But one thing is different.
I now have some self-awareness.
What the heck am I talking about?
A lack of self-awareness manifests itself in many different ways, pretty much all bad.
For me, I had all that stuff going on in my head while I was engaging with other people, including my band mates, fans, girls, bookers, producers, managers, fellow artists, record execs, club owners, promoters, etc.
I was so wrapped up in my own world, I wasnâ€™t paying attention to what the hell was going on, and would just go with the flow.
It made me look aloof.
It made other people feel like I felt I was above them in some way.
Which I didnâ€™t.
But thatâ€™s the way it looked.
Thatâ€™s the way it felt to them.
Mind you, I wasnâ€™t a horrible person at all.
My character hasnâ€™t changed, but my approach has.
Some people had strong personalities and they wouldnâ€™t give me permission to make them feel bad. These kinds of personalities usually became friends because they could endure the shit-show of getting to know me and get inside the circle of trust.
Sadly, some people are maybe not so strong and felt like crap after meeting me or dealing with me. I did not get to know them well. My loss on a lot of those, Iâ€™m sure.
Not too proud of that one. Ugh.
And thatâ€™s at least one big key to self-awareness. After meeting you for the first time, people wonâ€™t necessarily remember what you said as much as theyâ€™ll remember how you made them feel.
I had to be checked into the glass, so-to-speak.
One of those people with a strong personality who became a very close friend was our manager. I distinctly remember the moment she called me out.
We were at the Rock-It Club in Tampa, Florida. She came back to the dressing room after the show and kicked all our asses. She told us we better get our butts out there and work the room. Those people paid to come see us which means theyâ€™ll pay again if they feel welcome and special.
Here comes the part where I got schooled.
After a little while, sheâ€™d had enough. Not just for that night but enough of my stupidity in general. She told me, â€œJohnny, I know you. I know youâ€™re a good guy. Youâ€™re a funny guy. I know you have a big heart. Iâ€™m going to tell you something that youâ€™re not going to like very much, but Iâ€™m your friend and you need to hear it. So here it goes.
â€œYou come off like an arrogant asshole to these people.â€
Iâ€™m like, â€œWhat? Iâ€™m NOT an arrogant asshole!â€
She agreed and said, â€œI know this, but you need to realize that you come off that way. Youâ€™re not listening to them. Youâ€™re off in your own little world so youâ€™re not â€˜in attendanceâ€™ with them when theyâ€™re talking with you. This makes them feel like you donâ€™t give a crap. Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, you come off looking and feeling dismissive.â€
I was pissed to say the least.
Nobody likes it when someone holds up a mirror to your face. You have to deal with all the flaws.
It was however, one of the most pivotal moments in my life.
She was right.
I was pissed because I was mortified. Embarrassed.
It was true.
I suspect thereâ€™s remnants of that unwanted trait in my constitution and I suppose it rears its ugly head from time to time, but generally speaking, I worked really hard to correct that.
I certainly never felt like I was above all these people in any way, but my lack of social skills was painting a different picture and I just became self-aware.
Iâ€™m not going to lie, it took a lot of work to untie that knot but it wouldâ€™ve never happened had I not been checked.
Iâ€™ll bet you know somebody like this, yes?
Maybe itâ€™s you.
Iâ€™m paying it forward now.
I want you to win.
Self-awareness is mission critical to your business dealings, your team building, and your relationship with your fans in person and on social media.
I was always a little coveting or maybe even jealous of people who just had a natural affinity for making people feel good and special. Somehow they seemed to have this self-awareness thing licked and I was CLUELESS!!!
They always came off warm and fuzzy and I came off like a jerk, when I wasnâ€™t a jerk at all. This was so frustrating.
Iâ€™m telling you this because I learned, so you can learn too.
How do you come off?
How do people perceive you?
What are peopleâ€™s first impressions of you?
If you ask honestly, with an open heart, and you make sure to communicate to the person youâ€™re asking that you wonâ€™t be mad at them if they deliver the cold, hard, truthâ€¦youâ€™ll find out.
It may not be pretty.
They uglier it is, the more people youâ€™re going to need to ask as nobody will want to share their true feelings about you.
Self-awareness leads to all kinds of awareness.
This awareness leads to success in all aspects of your life.
Listen, there is something else you need to know.
I just described my transformation of sorts. You got the tip of the iceberg with regards to experiences that drove that transformation.
Many were painful.
All were humiliating looking back, now. Thatâ€™s NOT the person I wanted to be.
So here goes another free value bomb:
People who have found self-awareness are largely intolerant of people who havenâ€™t.
Theyâ€™re prejudiced of the non-aware because itâ€™s a painful, awkward moment in their life that they donâ€™t ever want to be reminded of again.
Itâ€™s behind them and they like it like that.
They earned it.
The takeaway is this:Â If youâ€™re lacking self-awareness, youâ€™re not going to get a lot of love even from the most compassionate, self-aware people.
Theyâ€™re going to be annoyed with you.
If youâ€™re getting that in the business, go find that mirror, take a deep breath, and start your new journey.
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