Mental Model

Most people think they know who they are although, in reality, they are a mystery to themselves. The hustle of daily life and the apprehension of coming to terms with who we are and why we do what we do puts this self-awareness to another day. Evolving into the person we want to become is not possible until we understand who we are in the present. We need to know what aspects of our present self to keep and what needs to change to experience our full potential.


    Selecting a career path and various opportunities throughout our journey should be guided by your personality, strengths, and other characteristics to optimize impact and fulfillment. Having a deep self-awareness of who we are will guide our decisions to a career path with purpose, our relationships, and dictate the quality of our life. Think about how you would describe yourself to other people to deepen awareness of your personal characteristics. The paragraphs below provide various dimensions to know your present self.

    Identity and Mojo

    Everybody has felt it at points throughout their life. An amazing feeling of energy and passion that lights up our faces and day. Marshall Goldsmith calls this “mojo” – that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside. It is the moment when we do something that’s purposeful, powerful, and positive, and the rest of the world recognizes it.

    In his Mojo book, Goldsmith outlines four vital ingredients that shape the energy you feel:

    1. Identity – Who do you think you are? Without a firm handle on your identity, we may never be able to understand why we gain or lose Mojo.
    2. Achievement – Accomplishments that have meaning and impact. 
    3. Reputation – The Scoreboard kept by others.
    4. Acceptance – Being realistic about what we can and cannot change in our lives.

    In the context of Know Yourself, the identity and achievement principles are essential to defining who we are and coming to terms with how we want to experience meaning and impact.  

    Goldsmith describes identity using two vectors. One vector represents the time dimension – our past and our future. The other vector represents the perception that others have of us and our self-image.

    Source: Mojo by Marshall Goldsmith
    • Remembered Identity – who you are based on events in your life.
    • Reflected Identity – other people’s opinions of what people remember about events in your past.
    • Programmed Identity – other people sending messages about who you are or will become in the future.
    • Created Identity – the identity we decide to create for ourselves; it is the part of our identity that is not controlled by our past or by other people.

    The intent is to capture your present identity. Picture yourself on the x-axis on the lower right (Remembered Identity). In the next lecture, we will explore your future self or what Goldsmith describes as “Created Identity”. Understanding who you are in the present will help reinforce what aspects of your identity you want to retain and what you are seeking to change that transform you into the person you want to become.

    Let’s now explore various dimensions that can help us understand who we are in the present.


    Our character is what ideally controls our decisions and how we act in various ways. It’s essential that understand our own character to be in a position to evolve it to the desired state. Our character is not what we say, but how we demonstrate it with our actions over time. These give us clues into our character and the character of others. Deepening the self-awareness of our character can identify our flaws and the actions we need to take to mitigate certain behaviors.

    “Know thoroughly your own character so you can break your compulsive patterns and take control of your destiny” – Robert Greene from The Laws of Human Nature


    Values describe your personal principles or standards of behavior, as well as one’s judgment of what is important in life. Values essentially shape how you live your life and describe what you stand for. Values serve as a compass to guide decision-making. You must learn to discover what your values are by writing them down. These will serve as a foundation for the career you choose and the people you share your life with.

    This is why it is so important to internalize your values and share them with people, so they understand what makes you tick. Values can change over time and it is recommended to re-evaluate your values and their priorities as you go through different phases of your life. When our actions and behaviors align with our values, life is generally good, and we are happy. If there is a conflict with our values due to our behavior, then this can drive unhappiness.  

    A difference in values between two people in a relationship will likely create an untenable situation that strains or ends the relationship. Evaluate the people you meet and share time with to study the spoken and unspoken clues to their values. This will give you clues to evaluate if your values are in conflict with a particular person. Don’t overlook how important this is.

    Each day we make hundreds of decisions so there is an opportunity to stay aligned with how we live our life to maximize our happiness. Some of our decisions are very important such as choosing a career, organization, job, or manager to work for and values can often help us guide our thought process. Know what you stand for!


    Sometimes it can feel like a mystery why we do what we do. Our ingrained habits – both good and bad ones – dictate the quality of the life we live from day to day. Inspect your habits to identify those you need to stop while reinforcing the good habits that contribute to the rewards you want in life. I highly recommend reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.

    Skills and Strengths

    Each of us has skills and strengths in certain areas that are given through birth or ones we develop through hard work. Knowledge in the forms of skills and strengths could have been learned through formal education, learning by doing, and learning from others. We will talk more about this in Principle 5 – Learn Continuously.


    Our outlook and how see the world can have a profound impact on shaping our present self. A growth mindset can fuel our learning and success, while a fixed mindset holds us to the status quo. Understanding our current mindset can unlock the key to evolving into our future selves.


    Each of us has experiences that have shaped who we are today. The challenging experiences made us stronger and gave us a perspective on what to avoid moving forward. A broad set of experiences can be used to shape our path. We will talk more about this in Principle 2.


    Interests are those activities, hobbies, and experiences that we crave and bring us energy. Outlining your core interests from both a professional career and personal perspective may give you clues as to how these interests can be combined and shape your career path. It is not uncommon for interests or passions that you exhibited in your childhood to be dormant as you followed typical career paths. Those interests may be a source of creativity to shape your unique path.

    Personality Type

    A personality type is what you prefer when you are using your mind or focusing attention. Knowing your own preferences helps you understand how they affect you, how they mold your communication style, and how they are different from the preferences of other people. The self-awareness of your type helps you choose a career path and role that leverages the strengths of your personality.

    Psychological Type

    Understanding our psychological type can give us insight into the inner workings of our personality and how we best engage with others. For example, Myers & Briggs is a well-established framework that outlines four basic preferences. A preference is what you like or prefer.  


    Motivators are what drive you and serve as the most important rewards in life. Each of us is motivated by different factors so it’s critical to understand and communicate to others how you are motivated. Money, power, and acknowledging successes are different ways people are motivated.  

    Professional Network

    The number of people

    Financial Assets

    The money in our bank account or financial instruments in our investment portfolio will influence the degree of risk we can accept when evaluating the potential targets – the opportunities that are ideally profitable and sustainable. The more financial assets we have to fall back on the more risk and potential upside we can go after. The surface area of potential opportunities will be reduced when you are living paycheck to paycheck.


    1 – Study your character etched within.

    Recognize you are a mystery to yourself that must be understood.

    Examine your patterns of behavior – both good and bad.

    Accept that your character is deep-rooted and requires deep self-awareness to change it.

    Identify and own the mistakes and patterns that continually hold you back.

    Catch yourself and step back when you are set to repeat a negative pattern.

    Feel the peace that your hands can shape the clay of your character over time.

    2 – Internalize your values.

    Write down your top 3-5 values that will stand the test of time.

    Identify values currently in conflict and what is driving that.

    Spend time with people that share similar values.

    Keep people at a distance that demonstrates values you don’t believe in.

    Study the values of your prospective partner.

    Operationalize your values – it’s your compass to life.

    3 – Explore your core interests.

    Think back to your childhood to rekindle interests that have faded.

    Write down the subjects, questions, and problems you are fascinated by.

    Envision how a fusion of your interests could create something unique.

    4 – Understand your mindset.

    Beliefs strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it.

    Explore your self-beliefs to identify what is holding you back.

    Embrace failure, setbacks, and obstacles as a form of learning.

    Adopt a growth mindset to shape your intelligence and personality.

    Internalize an aspirational view of yourself to guide the way you lead your life.

    5 – Take stock of your habits.

    Acknowledge your habits that are delivering positive results in your life.

    Be honest with yourself to identify the bad habits that are holding you back.

    Write down your bad habits to internalize and commit to changing them.

    Use atomic habits to build good habits and break bad ones.

    6 – Understand your type.

    Take personality tests.

    Embrace your uniqueness – there is no ideal type.

    Understand the implications of your type on your current job.

    7 – Recognize Your Strengths.

    Identify your signature talents through self-reflection.

    Get feedback from others on how they see your superpowers.

    Take assessments to confirm and internalize your strengths.

    Focus your time and energy on developing your strengths to fuel your career success.

    8 – Know What Motivates You.

    Examine the factors that are driving you to action and acquire the rewards you seek.

    9 – Sense the Mojo.

    Sense when you feel a positive spirit doing an activity.

    Write down that activity to understand what is it and why.

    Measure your professional mojo to identify how equipped you are to bring what is needed to do well in an activity.

    Measure your personal mojo to understand the benefits that a particular activity gives you back.

    Use this insight to identify patterns of what brings you the most satisfaction.

    Experiment With This

    • Spend a day or weekend committed to deepening your self-awareness through journaling, reading, walking, and thinking. What did you learn or become more aware of?
    • Seeing our character with clarity and accuracy is essential to reaching our full potential. What are the aspects of my character that I admire? What are the character flaws that I want to work on and change?
    • I have found that experiencing a state of mojo is a strong signal that you are loving the work you are doing and achieving success. What was the last thing I did that I sensed the energy and a positive spirit? What can I do to create more mojo moments throughout my day or week?
    • Take assessments to get a deeper perspective of your personality, preferences, and skills. This will be helpful in Principle 2. How is my current job or line of work in conflict with my type?
    • Identify and overcome one bad habit that holding you back. This will help you gain confidence that you can overcome others.
    • On a typical day, how much of your thought is living in the past, in the present moment, or anxiously anticipating the future?

    Resources – free personality tests

    The Myers & Briggs Foundation

    Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

    Extended DISC assessment

    The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

    • Law 4 – Determine the Strength of People’s Character
    • Law 14 – Resist the Downward Pull of the Group

    Atomic Habits by James Clear

    The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

    Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

    Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony De Mello

    Principles: Life and Work – by Ray Dalio (Principle 4.4 Find out what you and others are like)

    Hell Yeah or No: what’s worth doing by Derek Sivers (Keep Earning Your Title Or It Expires – page 16)