Honesty: the key to success

A look at why introspection is such an important part of being a successful businessperson.

How honest are you about yourself? Take a look. Do other people know what you’re thinking or how you feel? Do you even know? Can you expose and divulge your weaknesses, emotional underpinnings, your reactions?

I find that the capacity to be brutally honest with yourself is a consistent element in highly successful people. Yet, most people do not have the capacity to be frankly honest in this way. Not that they do this intentionally. They just aren't aware of themselves to the depth that reveals the source of their thinking and behavior. Simply put, they are not self-aware.

People who are not self-aware do not know how to effectively engage with their inner motivations. They don't realize that each thought has an emotion attached. They don't know why they react the way they do. They don't know why they sometimes say the things they say.

Read more from Dr. Marc Cooper: How self-awareness impacts leadership success

They are unconscious. Unconscious to those areas which cause self-destructive behavior. Unconscious to the cause of why they do what they do. They don't know how why they react the way they do.

When people are unconscious to who they are, they can't understand what drives them. This is because they don't do a painstaking self-examination, asking questions such as, "Who am I? Why do I do those things? Why do I make stuff up to when I know it's not true? Why do I exaggerate? Why do I try to impress? Why do I say those things in my relationships when I think and feel something totally different?" Without knowing why they do what they do, without any kind of introspection, they are powerless to stop.

Related article: Know yourself to know your team

Successful people know themselves in a deep way. They know what sets them off. They know what they automatically do when they are set off. They can recognize it before it takes hold. And they can choose another response.

I can quickly tell who will be successful as an entrepreneur just in an initial conversation. If the person I am speaking to is self-revealing, if they feel solid within their own skin, if they don't try to impress or windbag, then I know I've got a winner. These are the folks who don't lie to you or themselves, who can make and keep commitments, who take responsibility. To achieve success, you must be willing to be honest with yourself.