Management July 24, 2012 Last updated September 18th, 2018 728 Reads share

What You Can Learn From Jay Niblick About Self-Awareness And Authenticity – Part I

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Recently I sat down with Jay Niblick, author of the best-selling book What’s Your Genius – How the Best Think for Success in the New Economy and the Owner of Innermetrix, Inc., to talk about the two significant concepts within

Jay, How Did You Come Up With The Idea To Write What’s Your Genius?

As a psychometrics profile company that measures competencies our consultants and coaches in the field were noticing trends in the field.  Bear in mind we were seeing these trends in over 500,000 profiles used.  We began to notice the trend that people were falling into one of two categories – people who were not performing well and others who always seemed to achieve success – when both of them were in the same position.   Those not performing well were dissatisfied and those who were performing better were satisfied in their job.

We thought it made sense to examine why there was a difference, that is, why two people in the exact same role are either high performers or dissatisfied.  We decided to profile people to see if we could find a difference between them – was there a universal answer to explain why?

How Did You Go About Structuring The Research?

We work with hundreds of consultants, 75 of whom are PhD’s.  Using all of our consultants we profiled 197,000 people whose companies ranked them on their performance using a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, or genius level.[1]  We were hoping that we would find several things in common for the higher performers.

What we found however, was that there were no common natural talents.  That is, we did not find a single natural talent that showed up in only the most successful people.

You should understand that we profile 120 traits and talents, such as empathy, creativity, practical thinking.  There were no traits that demonstrated success or failure – none – across all the 197,000 people we profiled.

Related: My Interview With Anita Campbell On Visual Marketing, What Wows Her and Influences For 2012

What Did You Find?

Well, that’s an interesting question – because we actually did find a relationship between two acquired skills and successful people.  While there were no common talents and traits, we did identify that the higher level performers did demonstrate high levels of self-awareness and authenticity.  These two skills were strongly correlated to their success.

What Is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is your level of awareness for your abilities and skills – or lack thereof. Think of it this way.  What are you great at – and what do you stink at?  What are you naturally great at, not book knowledge, but natural talent things that you don’t learn in life?  Think about those subjects in school that came easy – and came real hard.  Chances are the subjects that came real hard you don’t have a natural talent for.  The average self-awareness level is 57%.  That means 57% of the people are really aware of what they are great at.

How Does Authenticity Come Into Play?

Authenticity is harder to graph.  It’s how you apply your level of self-awareness to achieve success – your performance.  It’s sequential as well.  You need to be self-aware before you can improve your level of authenticity.  Knowledge is self-awareness, but if you don’t do anything with that knowledge – it means nothing. In order to become more authentic you need to use that knowledge to help you meet your objectives better.

How Does This Make A Difference In People Improving Their Performance?

Conventional wisdom tells us that if you can identify a weakness then you can fix it.  If you do not have emotional intelligence you can acquire it.  If you are not strategic you can become it.  If you are not creative you can become it.  We are programmed in school to believe this.  Think about it – Math, English, History, and Science.  There is one best way to do the job – and guess what – we’ll teach you.

This concept of the “one best way” is a central element in scientific management theory, pioneered by Frederick W. Taylor at the start of the last century.  His work in Scientific Management introduced this concept in managing people for optimal efficiency.

Related: My Interview With Gene Marks On Blogging, Books And Controversy

Can You Challenge Our Readers With A Task?

Sure Thing.  Let me ask you: is there a task in life or work that, no matter how hard you try, you just always have a challenge getting it done well?

Take the next 60 seconds to list out those tasks in life or work that have always represented a challenge for you.  It’s ok if you want to list them in a column titled “Things That I’ve Always Sucked At!”  It helps to clear the mind.

What Do They Do Now With The Lists?

Chances are these represent some of their greatest NON-talents.

See, authenticity is hard to quantify.  We know that bottom level performers (remember those at level 1 on a scale of 1 to 5) were not authentic.  They were not aware of how to fix themselves.  Bottom performers did not have great self-awareness; they did not understand what they were great at – or stunk at.

Consider this – can you list your greatest strengths – your five greatest weaknesses?  Not sure you believe this? Take the next 60 seconds and list your top 5 strengths and top 5 weaknesses.  Stop.  How easy was it for you?  It’s a rare person who can tell you right off the bat.  That’s an example of self-awareness.  (And if you made the list as suggested it should be easier).

In our next interview we’ll talk with Jay on how you can improve your performance.


[1] We’ve actually created a coaching program based on this research called the 5th Level Coaching Program, feel free to check it out.

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Warren Rutherford

Warren Rutherford

Warren runs The Executive Suite, providing leadership & executive coaching programs, professional recruitment, One Page Business Plans, and franchise coaching services to businesses. Located in Hyannis, MA Warren is expert at people management, helping business executives hire, manage, and motivate others smarter. . He serves as the Director of Coaching Programs for Innermetrix, Inc. He is accredited in a variety of assessment and coaching methods. He is an ardent advocate of innovation, creativity, and inspirational change in business in life.

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