Get All Access for $5/mo

7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Master Self-Awareness A balance of winning qualities propels business leaders to success. Here's how they all play out.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The first steps toward true success are always inward. Successful entrepreneurs know how to master who they and harness their inner power, instincts and intuition.

Knowing themselves with clarity leads them to the right deals and business ventures. If they do not have acute self-awareness, they will come up against the counterforce of out-of-control emotions, leading to their downfall. With self-awareness, it's possible to better predict the power relationships necessary for success.

Related: 10 Ways Entrepreneurs Think Differently

1. Being inwardly directed.

Successful leaders are inwardly motivated by a drive or force that propels and motivates them to work hard to master their skills. This inner force is not unique to the profoundly successful. Everyone has this capability and each person has something distinctive to offer since no one is a repeatable phenomenon in this universe.

This inner direction is what guides successful entrepreneurs toward attaining their goals because they are driven to express who they are through their work. Each individual has a personal legend to live and leave. Going inward is their first place to tap. This inner direction grants people the ability to know themselves well enough to master who they are and how they make decisions.

2. Learning the ropes.

In any novel situation in business, an entrepreneur must learn the ropes. Skilled leaders are not afraid to start at the beginning because the more they know the bottom-line mechanics of a business, the more successful their ventures will be over the long term.

The average person tends to enter new deals with a lot of excitement initially and then lose his or her drive after emotions such as boredom, impatience, fear or confusion gain sway. Successful entrepreneurs master these emotions, follow the lead of others, learn the rules and observe how things fit together.

Through this process, they develop the confidence needed to master their destiny. They are humble and know that with practice comes fluency.

To be successful, take this same path and be humble so as to learn the ropes. This is how to move from a follower to a leader of a business.

Related: 50 Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur

3. Demonstrating emotional control.

Great leaders have mastery over the inner world of their emotions. They are sharp about knowing when to use their emotions to push for power and attainment and when to pull back and use self-control to get what they want.

Successful entrepreneurs do not let fear or anger take over and control their decision-making capabilities. Fear and anger make it difficult to reach mastery as these emotions disconnect people from rational thought. And rational thought keeps someone in touch with the whole battlefield, creating the space for good decision making and propelling the leader beyond petty emotions toward success. Self-control is a necessary ingredient for driving success.

4. Taking risks.

Accomplished leaders understand that self-awareness brings a sense of certainty in tough decision-making situations. This self-awareness enables them to make quicker and more efficient assessments in tough moments.

Their self-knowledge clears space so they can cut through the confusion, making their commitment to decisions more fluid. Successful leaders use observation and learning to become experts at knowing patterns of business and behavior, enabling them to take more risk with less loss.

5. Showing patience.

Accomplished entrepreneurs have the maturity and experience to have patience. Sometimes closing certain deals requires a combination of strategy, realigning, striking out, losing and going back to the drawing board to start again.

Patience helps leaders look beyond what's before them and wait as the chips fall into place without lashing out impulsively in a negative way and destroying the opportunity. Leading successfully sometimes means doing by not doing and seeing that it all gets done.

6. Cultivating wisdom.

Learning to master the inner world of reactions is what drives proficient leaders to make sound decisions, learn from their mistakes and not quit. Wisdom comes from being willing to lose little battles to win the war. There's no way to succeed without first having the ability to manage the inner world of reactions, fear and complacency.

With wisdom comes persistence and proficient leaders recognize this as the key to success. When others give up, they keep going. Persistence generates success inwardly and outwardly in the world of observable results. Having this wisdom keeps leaders on the continual climb to the top.

7. Exhibiting curiosity.

Leaders are usually not satisfied with only a certain level of success. Once one level has been secured and mastered, an inner tug calls for checking out what's at the next level. This pull is driven by an emotional force of curiosity and desire.

It involves a curiosity to see how much more can be created and achieved. Curiosity stimulates personal growth. When the desire to succeed arises out of this curiosity, then success has no limits. A lack of curiosity leads to contentment with what is. Great leaders are never content.

All people can be masters of their destiny. The counterforce that each desiring entrepreneur has to master is his or her reactive inner world. Great results come from the matrix of managing when to push and when to back off.

This means having self-knowledge. Stay curious in terms of career. Curiosity inspires creativity and creativity is where all new ideas stem from. This is how leaders become mavericks. They pay no attention to fitting in. They know that their success often comes at the expense of not belonging. Belonging isn't their concern. Succeeding, expanding and creating are their concerns.

Related: 5 Unforgettable Leadership Qualities for Successful Entrepreneurs

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.   

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Growing a Business

The Top 5 AI Tools That Can Revolutionize Your Workflow and Boost Productivity

Discover the top 5 AI tools for marketing and content creation that every marketer needs to know.

Business News

How to Build a Successful Startup, According to an Investor Who Made Early Bets on Twitter, Lyft, and Twitch

He's found a few patterns after nearly two decades of investing in startups.

Science & Technology

No More ChatGPT? Here's Why Small Language Models Are Stealing the AI Spotlight

Entrepreneurs can leverage this growing tech to create innovative, efficient and targeted AI solutions.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.