My letters are typically published via email to your inbox, and I select a few every now and again to feature on the blog. Letter XIII was originally published by email on 24th July 2019, and was re-published on the blog on 13th December 2019. Subscribe at chrismarr.co.uk

Self-awareness is the key to being a better person. At home: a better parent, a better sibling, and a better friend. At work: a better teacher, a better coach, a better consultant and a better leader. 

However, it’s not easy to obtain. You can’t just snap your fingers and suddenly become ‘self-aware’. At least that’s not my experience. 

When you don’t have it, you don’t know you need it. When you know you need it, you find out you’ve got a lot of work to do on it. When you begin to dial in your self-awareness, you start to realise that almost everyone is living their life without it. And to top it off, you can’t give it to people that don’t know they need it. 

Self-awareness is a daily practice of observing others and your own behaviour. You make small corrections each day – sometimes you do well, and other times you have to learn from your mistakes. 

There’s a question in The Five Minute Journal that I believe to be the most important question to ask yourself at the end of the day – “How could I have made today even better?”

Some people find this question uncomfortable – why end the day on a low point? But that’s not why we ask this question of ourselves. We ask it so we can understand how we can learn from the past, and be better in the future. What could I have done differently today, that I can learn from and apply to tomorrow? 

For me, that’s what self-awareness is all about. The ability to correct your thinking, behaviour and actions a little each day so you can be a better person.

To those around you, it might not seem like there’s a lot happening day-to-day, but after a year, 5 years, 20 years, people will see the change in you. 

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My letters are typically published via email to your inbox, and I select a few every now and again to feature on the blog. Letter X was originally published by email on 30th June 2019, and was re-published on the blog on 26th November 2019. Subscribe at chrismarr.co.uk

For more than 10 years I’ve searched for the answer to something that’s been missing from my life. 

How did I know something was missing? 

  • I didn’t know what to do in everyday situations. 
  • I didn’t know how to say the right thing. 
  • I was easily led and mimicked other people’s behaviour.
  • To feel confident in a room I needed to feel like the smartest/most important.
  • I spent a lot of my time judging people and complaining.
  • I buried my feelings, didn’t talk about them and pretended like I had it all under control.

When you peer just below the surface, ultimately what you see is a young man that doesn’t really know who he is.

I became aware of all of this in a single work-related moment a few years ago. 

I saw clearly why I would never become the teacher and coach I so badly wanted to be. If I wasn’t prepared to be honest with myself, to open up to myself, to understand myself and to ultimately be confident in my own skin, I would never be able to get to the level where I can help people to the best of my ability. 

I had the skills, the techniques, the people to work with, the mentorship. I’ve read all the books, I’ve watched the videos and I’ve got all the right people around me. 

I didn’t need more external input. I didn’t need to put more in. I needed to go inward. 

The answer to my next stage of growth was inside of me. 

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“It’s silly to try to escape other people’s faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.”

 – Marcus Aurelius

At some stage in your career, you will want to go beyond the technical aspect of your work. For me, the technical is content marketing. It’s a fast-changing industry, but I know that the difference between me and someone like me isn’t found in what we know. The difference is found in our ability to communicate – for me that’s teaching and coaching. 

If I want to get further and be better, I need to be a world-class communicator.

Developing your own self-awareness is perhaps the most crucial element for personal growth. It’s certainly been the most powerful and dramatic shift I’ve had in my life so far. 

In the past few years, I can count on one hand the number of industry-based books I’ve read, and I haven’t attended a single industry conference. That’s not to say there’s no value there, but at this stage of my learning, it’s clear that my growth is going to come from a different source. 

Think about your self-awareness like a dial on an old FM radio, just like your parents used to own. Over the past few years, I’ve been learning to dial my self-awareness into the right frequency. There’s a still a lot of noise, but there are more moments when I’m tuned into the right frequency and I feel a lot closer to it now that I ever have. 

So, with that in mind, here are the books that I recommend that you read, study and embrace as you go on your journey to developing your own self-awareness.

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My letters are typically published via email to your inbox, and I select a few every now and again to feature on the blog. Letter XI was originally published by email on 3rd July 2019, and was re-published on the blog on 6th September 2019. Subscribe at chrismarr.co.uk

Do you think people are doing the best that they can?

When Brené Brown asked this question, my immediate answer was “yeah, of course I think people are doing the best they can” – because it felt like the right answer.

However, after thinking about it for a while, and reflecting on my own behaviour, the truth is that I don’t think people are doing the best they can. 

  • I judge people I don’t know for being incompetent, lazy or stupid
  • I complain about people I care about because they don’t live up to my expectations
  • I talk about how my friends aren’t being good parents
  • I get angry when someone lets me down
  • I even complain about people complaining!

In my head, I know that I *should* believe that people are doing their best, but my actions and behaviour tell the truth.

I wouldn’t behave or think like this if I truly believed people we’re doing their best.

I think that people can do better. I expect more from people. 

But what if believed that people were all doing the best that they can? How would that change my behaviour? 

Let’s talk through it.

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My letters are typically published via email to your inbox, and I select a few every now and again to feature on the blog. Letter VI was originally published by email on 17th May 2019, and was re-published on the blog on 8th August 2019. Subscribe at chrismarr.co.uk

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

– Stephen R. Covey 

As a new step-dad, my relationship with Sophie is still developing. She was 15 when I first met her, and she’s turning 18 soon. We’ve lived together for over two years and this past year has been transformational for her.

She has:

  1. Passed her higher exams with incredible results
  2. Met her first boyfriend
  3. Secured her first job
  4. Passed her driving test and bought a car

She literally finished her final exam yesterday. In a few short months, she’ll be moving out of the family home and starting university in Edinburgh.

I forgot how much change there is at this time of our life. She seems to take it all in her stride. Confident, focused, determined and deliberate.

She’s an inspiring young lady.

It’s fair to say that Sophie has a lot going on in her life. A lot of choices and decisions to make.

To create and build the life we want, it really comes down to the decisions we make.

Our whole life is simply made up choices and decisions.

The way I see it, there are three paths when it comes to making decisions.

  1. You make a decision
  2. You don’t make a decision, or
  3. You do nothing – you make a decision to not make a decision.

What’s strikes me as interesting about decision making is that I can’t think of anyone at any time in my life teaching me how to make good decisions.

Seems to me like a huge gap in our learning and personal growth, don’t you think?

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My letters are typically published via email to your inbox, and I select a few every now and again to feature on the blog. Letter II was originally published by email on 7th February 2019, and was re-published on the blog on 8th August 2019. Subscribe at chrismarr.co.uk

“…it is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows”

– Epictetus

Cara and I are fed up nagging Paddy every time he uses the bathroom to wipe his butt, flush the toilet and wash his hands.

Paddy isn’t materialistic so you can’t use the carrot and stick methodology with him because it doesn’t motivate him.

To change his behaviour, and for it to stick, It has to be about how his actions impact others. It has to be about the why and the purpose.

We’re going to have to take a different approach.

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