Idea one: In India we don’t think who we are …

In the film “The Party” Peter Sellers is in discussion with someone who says “Who do you think you are!?” His reply? ” In India we don’t think who we are – we know who we are”. All spoken in a Peter Sellers accent.

Your own business is not a good place to learn who you are. Knowing who you are will save you a good deal of anguish and reduce the frequency of 02h00 panic attacks.

Your own business will test you and your relationships in ways which working for other people doesn’t. If you are very successful your relationships and status will change dramatically, generally for the better. If you crash and burn, or even just fizzle out, some of your key relationships will be severely tested or come to an end.

So, how do you find out who you are? Competence is usually seen as comprising knowledge (what you know), skills (what you can do), and attitudes (how you feel about yourself, others, and life/work).

Some of this information on yourself is readily accessible to you. Some of it will probably require a little digging. You can quickly compile a list of what you know (based on your formal learning, supplemented by informal learning) and what skills you have acquired.

In looking at your skills it’s important that you look at transferable skills. These include skills like:

  • Planning and arranging events and activities
  • Managing and/or motivating others
  • Dealing with obstacles and crises
  • Presenting written material
  • Persuading through verbal interaction
  • Repairing things (e.g. equipment or machinery)
  • Coaching or training people
  • Researching or interviewing
  • Building or constructing things or concepts
  • Designing (e.g. systems, buildings, furniture)
  • Managing finances
  • Speaking a foreign language
  • Utilising computer software (e.g. accounting, databases, spreadsheets, etc)

Transferable skills go with us from place to place and job to job. We can turn our hand to various things through effectively mobilizing our transferable skills (Margaret Thatcher was a grocer’s daughter).

When we get into measuring our own attitudes it’s often difficult to get an accurate measure of ourselves – we’re too close to ourselves! Some of the tools you can use:


  • Buy the book “Now discover your strengths” by Buckingham and Clifton. This R150.00 investment will enable you to do an online test to identify your five key or signature strengths (out of 34). The most extensive research yet done on people and performance has established that identifying and applying your strengths forms the foundation of personal and work effectiveness.
  • Go to and do the free “Jung typology”. This is a non-proprietary version of the famous MBTI®. This quiz will enable you to identify which of 16 profiles you most closely fit. With a little additional Internet browsing on the MBTI® you will be able to get a clear sense of how you prefer to deal with the world.
  • Go to and do the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) and the Transcendental-future Time Perspective Inventory (TTPI). These free profiles tell you how you manage and feel about time. Are you living in the past, present, or future? Your time-orientation has a significant impact on your personal effectiveness. If you have a less than effective attitude to time these quizzes will enable you to review your time models.
  • Finally, go to: . There you will find several free quizzes. You do need to register at this site as Dr. Seligman uses your quiz information (anonymously) to enhance the effectiveness of the various quizzes he has designed. The one to start with perhaps is the Authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire.

Once you have made your investment of several hours of your time in doing these various profiles and quizzes review what they have told you about yourself. If possible discuss the results with someone you trust. Better still get them to do the quizzes as well so you can offer each other some mutual support.

At the beginning of this idea we noted that Your own business is not a good place to learn who you are. Doing these various quizzes, profiles, and inventories will have helped you to identify how to enhance your personal effectiveness and get a sense of what you should be investing your life in.

Is owning your own business for you?