We often place our professional development and advancement in neat little boxes. We have education and we have experience – we understand our goal to be around maximising the two.

Outside this, we know it’s important to be connected to people, especially the relevant kind. And when you have that sorted, you have the trifecta ripe for success, right?


You see, there’s something we don’t get informed about in a plain manner – and that’s awareness.

Wikipedia states awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns.

Let me explain further…

You just had a job interview via a solid referral – all in all, you think you crushed it chatting about how your history and direction are perfectly suited. The next candidate shows, much of a muchness, but proceeds to share knowledge about the market, background on partners we could potentially work with and really specific things on what we could do better. Our conversation turns into more of a consultative brainstorm and I start wondering why we ever lasted without them. Guess who gets the gig.

This is awareness in action.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at an event in Melbourne when I bumped into someone from the industry I’ve known for a few years. The person is connected to me on every social channel known to humankind. He asked what I was working on nowadays. I was a little taken aback. I mean, it feels like I shout all things The Fetch from the top of my lungs – and should even tone it down. How could he not be across it? Sure, 99.99% of people are expected to not know but considering the context in this case, I felt slighted. At the end of the day, great relationships are built by taking notice of what each other is up to.

This is awareness in action.

You have an awesome idea for a marketplace startup – it’s around events and activities. You get a team together and start building the platform. A year later, you launch and then a year later you shut down. The thing is – the same thing happened to five other similar businesses, some two years ago. If you’d opened the blinkers and realised you were building a local clone of a site that previously failed in the US, you would have saved yourself the time and energy – and focused on solving the problem in a new way.

This is awareness in action.

I owe everything I have to date down to increasing my ambient awareness – of people, myself, things, places, markets and news.

So, how are you becoming more aware today?

Related: Check out Amber Case’s blog Cyborg Anthropology for more on this topic.

2 thoughts on “The skill you didn’t think you needed – awareness

  1. Can’t agree with this more. There is no understating how impressive it is to chat to somebody who just demonstrates a broad awareness of what happens around them.

  2. I ssssooo agree. Thing is, my and my girlfriend come home everyday and trade stories about how much it seems people lack awareness. I know this isn’t what you’re referring to exactly but just people without peripheral vision. These are the same people that stand in front of an ATM to have a cigarette or stand on the walking side of the escalator during rush hour. It’s symptomatic of a worldview that puts the self and it’s desires not just front and centre but as the sole concern worth considering. I also think what you’re touching on is empathy and curiosity. I wrote on my blog about why empathy is so important for startups and is so under-rated. It’s about putting your own agenda aside and taking the time to focus with full attention on the person opposite you, or whatever it is you’re trying to engage with. I could go on and on (I’ve also got inspiration for another blog post) but yes, when you lead with the giving hand you shall receive.

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