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6 Insights to Increase Your Business Acumen Learn, and use, the acronym IPGACO to cultivate better business relationships.

By Michael Mamas Edited by Dan Bova

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In business, most of our focus is on what lies outside of us, but it is more important to pay attention to what lies within us and limits our ability to be effective in our profession. Whether we are communicating with others or are just having our own private thoughts, the acronym IPGACO can bring us awareness that makes all the difference between insight and oblivion.

I -- Identity.

We tend to identify with a particular perspective or worldview. Identity is more a physiological state than a set of notions or beliefs. Identity involves a rigid set of visceral and emotional responses to various experiences. Without even thinking, our identities determine how we function, think, act and respond. Yet, our identities can be evolved and matured by simply reflecting upon them, feeling into them and asking ourselves if this is really how we want to live our lives.

Related: The Identity Gap: Who You Are and Who You Want to Become

Ultimately, identities limit us and suppress our insights, creativity and effectiveness. It is as if they limit the bandwidth -- the boundaries -- within which we are able to see, feel, understand and function.

P -- Preconceived notions.

Preconceived notions often come in the form of what we call education. We are indoctrinated to think a particular way through a particular paradigm that we hold as truth. At some point, many come to realize this on their own after going through the educational system of B.S., M.S. or Ph.D. This equates to B.S., More of the Same and Piled Higher and Deeper. That, of course, overstates the point because there is a value to this sort of conventional education, but it also brings into focus the limitation of preconceived notions.

The truly creative see beyond such paradigms. The best way to free yourself from such paradigms is first to observe and recognize your indoctrination. From Henry Ford to Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, seeing beyond preconceived notions was a key to their success in business.

When investing in the stock market, following the convention of preconceived notions of market trends ensures failure, since the results of your investments have already been determined before you even made them.

G -- The "I get it' syndrome.

We tend to be very quick in our response to an idea we feel we've already heard before or already "get." We quickly brush it aside instead of exploring possibilities that a fresh, new look could reveal. For example, a dear engineering friend of mine in Silicon Valley was offered a chance to get into Twitter on the ground floor. He brushed it aside, thinking people could limit the number of characters in their communication on their own without the need for Twitter. Deciding that he "got it," he passed up the opportunity --which would have afforded him millions of dollars. Instead of thinking we already understand, we do well to consider that which lies beyond our current perception.

Related: 10 Habits of Unlikeable People

A -- Association.

We commonly function through association. We understand one thing and associate it with something new, and therefore decide that we already understand the new thing. We can see associations between an old software program and a new one, an old workplace environment and a new one, an old and new perspective on a marketing approach, economic theory, philosophy, etc. The value of association is that it might get us into the arena of the new idea. The problem is that it blurs the edges, the horizon, opportunity and value of the new.

The way around the association pitfall is to look not at how something is similar to what we already know, but to ask ourselves how it is different. We thereby expand our horizons and move past the limitations of association.

C -- Connotation.

Oftentimes, the connotation of a word carries more meaning than the literal definition. This applies to so many words -- liberal, conservative, ecology, God, boss, employee, minimum wage, tax write-offs, shrewd, etc. Most any word can carry a negative connotation with some people. These connotations prohibit us from communicating effectively. They also prohibit us from thinking clearly. Connotations push people's buttons, tweaking their ability to think, feel and function wisely.

O -- Other people.

When we reflect upon the meaning of IPGACO or other insights into how people function, it's easy to see how other people fall prey to such limitations. What is really challenging is to see how we, ourselves, are limited. Overcoming such limitations is a great key to success in business, and for that matter, life in general.

Related: 5 Things First Time Founders Need to Know

Oftentimes, our close associates and friends can help us see beyond our limitations if we are willing to listen -- and if they are comfortable speaking up. Isn't it a shame that most of us go through life with these limitations glaring in the face of others, while it is unknown to us? We do well to cultivate a relationship with our associates which facilitates a free feedback exchange of how we both limit ourselves and act from limitation. Such relationships should always be respectful, humble and reflective. If we come on too strong, the other person will shut down, perhaps feeling offended, alienated and defensive. Yet, if such a relationship with a coworker can be developed in a healthy manner, it can become one of your most powerful tools to move forward in your career.

Michael Mamas

Founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality

Dr. Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. From personal issues to global trends, Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a "bridge" between the abstract and concrete, the eastern and western, and the ancient and modern. Mamas has been teaching for 35 years and writes on a variety of subjects on his blog,

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