The Simple Self-Help Exercise to Improve Leadership Skills & Business Acumen

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You would probably agree with me that there are a ton of reasons why most real estate investors don’t become successful. I have heard every reason under the sun, from lack of capital, time, and resources to limited knowledge and many others.

While some of these reasons can appear real to people, I would say that these are merely excuses. All of these reasons can be overcome if you want success badly enough.

There is, however, one incredibly important reason most investors don’t become successful. It is often not discussed on the BP Forums or blog posts.

Here it is: Lack of self-awareness.

I know you might be saying to yourself, who really cares about being more self-aware? Can being more self-aware really help you be a more successful real estate investor?

And the answer is YES.

I’ve been in this business for 10 years and have met a lot of successful real estate investors and entrepreneurs over the years. I have also met a lot of people who want to be successful but never quite get there. Over 10 years, I have noticed trends. I have to tell you that one quality that I see within all of those who are successful is self-awareness.

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What is Self-Awareness?

There are a ton of explanations out there on the internet on self-awareness. I found a great explanation from Gary Van Warmerdam.

“Self-awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.”

Self-awareness is more than simply knowing your strengths and weaknesses. This is a major piece of self-awareness. But it is also having a clear perception of your beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Some people are great at becoming aware of these areas of their life, and others are not.

Related: The Clever Psychology Trick You Need to Successfully Negotiate With Type A Personalities

Research for Importance of Self Awareness

There is even research that shows the importance of self-awareness. There was a study conducted in 2010 by Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. The study examined 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion.

Here is an excerpt from their research:

“Leadership searches give short shrift to ‘self-awareness,’ which should actually be a top criterion. Interestingly, a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. This is not altogether surprising, as executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates who perform well in categories in which the leader lacks acumen. These leaders are also more able to entertain the idea that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own.”

Additionally, an incredibly successful entrepreneur who I have a lot of respect for, Gary Vanyerchuk, has built wildly successful businesses and has written many best-selling books such as Crush It. He recently wrote an article about the importance of self-awareness in which he states:

“Self-awareness allows people to recognize what things they do best so they can then go hard on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. I want people to learn to be at peace with themselves, to understand what they can offer, because everyone’s got something. The key, however, is learning how to find it. Self-awareness can help you do that.”

Tool to Increase Your Self-Awareness

Have you ever heard of the Johari Window Model? Well, if you ever took any courses in psychology, then you might have heard of this model. If not, you can google “Johari Window,” and you will learn a ton!
In a nutshell, the Johari Window Model is a simple and useful tool for illustrating and improving self-awareness. The Johari Window Model was developed by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 while researching group dynamics at the University of California Los Angeles.

So here is how the model works:

  • There is a vertical column labeled “known by others” and “unknown by others.”
  • There is a horizontal row labeled “known by self” and “unknown by self.”

It is broken up into four quadrants which are displayed below in the graphic.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 10.03.45 AM

The “open/free” self-quadrant includes information about you that you know and others know. These could include where you live, your age, gender, occupation, etc.

The “blind area” quadrant includes information about you/your personality that you don’t know but others know about you. Most of us have heard of “blind spots” in our personality. These are the attributes that could get in our way of our day to day success in real estate entrepreneurship.

The “hidden area” self-quadrant includes information about you/your personality that you know but others don’t know. These could include feelings, past experiences, or even fears you have. By sharing some of this information with those you trust, you will increase your authenticity and realness with others.

The “unknown” quadrant is unknown to you and unknown to others. The person will be unaware until he/she discovers his/her hidden qualities and capabilities. Many times this is where people’s talents are found (which is the good news!).

Related: The 12 Best Ways to Increase Your Chances of Real Estate Success

The key to expanding the”open/free” self in order to become more self aware is through two strategies:

  1. ASK: Soliciting Feedback (going from”open/free” self to “blind spot”) — asking individuals who work with you for feedback about your strengths and weaknesses, etc. The key with this one is not only asking for the feedback, but truly listening with empathy to what people tell you and making changes accordingly.
  2. TELL: Self Disclosure/Exposure (moving from”open/free” self to “hidden area”) — sharing more openly about “you” with those you trust. This is not about sharing your dark secrets with others, but it is about being real, authentic and transparent with people.

Your Challenge if You Choose to Accept it

All of us can get better with our self-awareness. My challenge to anyone who wants to take me up on it is to take this Johari Model and put it into action. Choose three people who know you incredibly well and have worked with you. Ask them for feedback on your “blind spots” — blind spots that might be getting in the way of your success. And then share with them a couple of insights you have about you that they don’t know (i.e. “hidden area” — maybe strengths, weaknesses, fears, your highest goals and aspirations).

I promise this will be an eye opening experience. Hopefully you will take the feedback from the three discussions to heart and do something with the feedback.

If you take me up on this challenge, I would love to hear your feedback below!

Let’s get some discussion going!

About Author

Elizabeth Faircloth

Liz Faircloth has been managing and investing in real estate since 2004, along with her husband, Matt. We have built our business from scratch and now own over five million dollars in residential and commercial assets. We love to help and educate investors. Our YouTube Channel, The Landlord’s Chronicles, offers short, yet educational videos that covers topics such as flipping houses, rentals, rehabs, property management, and lessons learned along the way.


  1. benjamin cowles

    I’m aware “I’m not perfect” but to actually look in the mirror and see yourself and use what you see, especially your weaknesses to your advantage is truly a challenge. This blog has helped me look in the mirror, if only for just a brief moment today lol. Maybe I should bookmark it.

  2. Sonia Spangenberg

    Great read. I am a very introspective person and am pretty self aware, but my husband and my business partner both recently shared the same observance to me about something in myself that I didn’t realize (something most likely hobbling me). It is a very true revelation and I will continue to work on that area. I really liked the positive approach you took in the blog and in responses with commentators. That’s a great sign that you are well centered and balanced yourself. I love the hope of your strengths often being in the “hidden” areas of your self. Makes you want to treasure hunt!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks so much Sonia for taking the time to read the post and be open to this! That is wonderful that you were open to the feedback from your business partner and husband. That is a huge piece of self awareness!! Thanks for the comment about me being well centered. I am continually working on this area of my life certainly!! Good luck to you and I love what you said at the end – it truly is a treasure hunt!! 🙂

  3. Lavaud Charlemagne

    Awesome article. Another exercise you can practice as well to increase your awareness is to do a 10 minutes debrief daily before you go to bed. You’ll need to write the things that you did wrong during the day and that you could improve and the ones you did right that you need to keep on strenghtening. I hope this help. But i’m definitely up for the challenge. Thanks for posting

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Genoa – Good for you for taking action. Most people talk about what they are going to do – most DO NOT actually take the action. Awesome!! Hope the feedback and exercise was beneficial to you. If you continue to make this an ongoing business practice for yourself – you will see your business grow!! Good luck to you!!

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