Self-awareness, you either have it or you don’t.
That’s a true statement.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get it if you don’t have it.
In fact, we are all born with a certain lack of self-awareness. If you’ve ever seen a toddler who believes that by covering her eyes she becomes invisible because she can’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 don’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 you’re handling the music business.
This one is different.
Today we’re going to dig into whether you’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 heard…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 wasn’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 didn’t.
But that’s the way it looked.
That’s the way it felt to them.
Mind you, I wasn’t a horrible person at all.
My character hasn’t changed, but my approach has.
Some people had strong personalities and they wouldn’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, I’m sure.
Not too proud of that one. Ugh.
And that’s at least one big key to self-awareness. After meeting you for the first time, people won’t necessarily remember what you said as much as they’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 they’ll pay again if they feel welcome and special.
Here comes the part where I got schooled.
After a little while, she’d had enough. Not just for that night but enough of my stupidity in general. She told me, “Johnny, I know you. I know you’re a good guy. You’re a funny guy. I know you have a big heart. I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to like very much, but I’m your friend and you need to hear it. So here it goes.
“You come off like an arrogant asshole to these people.”
I’m like, “What? I’m NOT an arrogant asshole!”
She agreed and said, “I know this, but you need to realize that you come off that way. You’re not listening to them. You’re off in your own little world so you’re not ‘in attendance’ with them when they’re talking with you. This makes them feel like you don’t give a crap. Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, you come off looking and feeling dismissive.”
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 there’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.
I’m not going to lie, it took a lot of work to untie that knot but it would’ve never happened had I not been checked.
I’ll bet you know somebody like this, yes?
Maybe it’s you.
I’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 wasn’t a jerk at all. This was so frustrating.
I’m telling you this because I learned, so you can learn too.
How do you come off?
How do people perceive you?
What are people’s first impressions of you?
If you ask honestly, with an open heart, and you make sure to communicate to the person you’re asking that you won’t be mad at them if they deliver the cold, hard, truth…you’ll find out.
It may not be pretty.
They uglier it is, the more people you’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. That’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 haven’t.
They’re prejudiced of the non-aware because it’s a painful, awkward moment in their life that they don’t ever want to be reminded of again.
It’s behind them and they like it like that.
They earned it.
The takeaway is this: If you’re lacking self-awareness, you’re not going to get a lot of love even from the most compassionate, self-aware people.
They’re going to be annoyed with you.
If you’re getting that in the business, go find that mirror, take a deep breath, and start your new journey.
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