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 XVIII was originally published by email on 17th March 2020, and was re-published on the blog on 17th March 2020. Subscribe at chrismarr.co.uk

It’s noisy out there in the world. In my head, too. 

I can feel it. Vibrating inside me. Like all my molecules and atoms are bouncing off each other. 

It’s affecting my attention. I’m constantly distracted. It’s exhausting. 

It’s times like this when writing lists help me to get some perspective and get a grip of what’s going on in my head before it gets out of control. 

I’m a work in progress, just like you. Which means I don’t have all the answers and I certainly can’t solve the problems happening in the world right now. 

But I can always write a list. And lists make sense, at least for me.

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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 XVII was originally published by email on 23rd February 2020, and was re-published on the blog on 16th March 2020. Subscribe at chrismarr.co.uk

Six months ago I wound down my business and accepted a full-time role at IMPACT – a leading marketing company in the US. 

The burden of owning, running and managing my own company has been lifted, leaving me to focus solely on doing my best work in one area. Every day I get to do only what I’m good at and because I’m only doing that, I’m quickly getting very good at it. 

It’s like a dream come true for me, but I struggled with the transition. It’s only now, 4 months in, that I’m starting to settle into a different approach to my work. 

For the past ten years or so, I’ve consistently set goals and planned my year, but rolling into 2020 was different. I just couldn’t figure out what my year was going to look like. Thanks to Chris Brogan’s ‘three-word’ exercise, I was able to set a theme for the year and let go of any in-depth goal setting. I’m still only using these three words as my guide:

  1. Move
  2. Write
  3. Excel

It took me weeks to find a word that defined doing my best work, and I eventually settled on Excel

On the face of it, doing your best work is easy to understand and you may believe that you already do your best work.

However, for me, there is a lot of work to do in setting the physical and mental conditions for doing my best work. I’m still working on it. Naturally, I turned to my journal and I wrote a note to myself to remind me what I need to think about, and what needs to happen to do my best work. It’s not as simple as you may think. 

I thought it would be helpful for you to read through this. It’s certainly not complete, but it may get you thinking about things you need to change in your situation to allow you to do better work. 

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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 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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