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Matt Higgins says he went from living in “extreme poverty” to running boardrooms. This experience taught the self-made millionaire that successful people have one thing in common.
Higgins said Tuesday during CNBC’s Make It: Your Money virtual event that people who lead are comfortable with the concept of change. Contrary to popular belief, “blind persistence” does not matter, he added.
“‘Try harder’ doesn’t mean ‘try the same,'” said Higgins, CEO and co-founder of private investment firm RSE Ventures. “The most successful people in life when you compare their PowerPoint to their start-up business [model]”It’s nothing like what it turns out to be five years later.”
This self-awareness can inform when to stay true to your ideas and when to change course, Higgins told Make It in an email. It often takes time for people to accept radical ideas, especially when you are creating something new, he explained.
“To be successful in life … you have to show a little bit of rebellion, a little bit of belligerence,” until people finally find out, Higgins said Tuesday.
Technology executives and Ivy League professors often tout the importance of self-awareness. It’s the “most underrated” feature, Harvard neuroscientist Juliette Han told Make It in June.
Similarly, former Google vice president Claire Hughes Johnson said it was “the one skill I looked for most in candidates,” she wrote for Make It in March.
“Of course, your experience and skills matter, but they can be learned,” noted Hughes Johnson. “And when someone is highly self-aware, they are more motivated to learn because they are honest about what they need to work on.”
To build self-awareness, start by identifying what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, and what’s important to you, said Hughes Johnson. Higgins noted during the event that people who repeat their mistakes often have not yet developed sufficient self-awareness.
“People who tend to do the same thing over and over again… it’s because they’re afraid to face their inner demons,” Higgins said, adding: “Focus on your mind [and] Train the voice in your head to be your ally, not your biggest adversary.”
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