It’s a fact that our success and happiness in life is less determined by our circumstances than by our ability to understand, accept and manage ourselves. But many of us don't spend enough time with ourselves every day to commit to this process.

Let’s explore these three important concepts:

1) Understanding ourselves isn’t as easy as it may seem. While Popeye’s claim, “I am what I am,” may make it sound like a simple concept, there are two big reasons why understanding ourselves is a challenging task.

Firstly: We lie to ourselves, about ourselves, every single day. This self-deception is perpetuated for any number of reasons - in order to make ourselves feel better, to avoid the discomfort that seeing something for what it really is can cause us, or out of ignorance, pride, or prejudice.

Secondly: Once these false lenses are in place, everything we view is impacted because we view everything through our own sense of self. While our self-view may feel like the truth, we would be wise to honestly ask ourselves if it’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In other words, take off the glasses and really look in the mirror.

2) Accepting ourselves can also be a challenge. Most of us are our own worst critics. As a small example, consider how rare it is to meet someone who has accepted their physical attributes rather than complain about them. Accepting ourselves as we are doesn’t mean that we necessarily lose our will or desire to improve ourselves and our situation. [Remember, there is a difference between acceptance and resignation.] It simply means that for the moment, you accept the reality that is now. This allows you to be more peaceful and happier in the moment, allowing you the energy to strengthen your resolve to make changes for the future. How can that be bad?

3) Managing ourselves is hard. Most of us seek comfort over happiness. If you don’t regularly make time for edifying things like reading, spending quality time with friends and family, exercising, spending alone time in reflection, etc., I guarantee that your days will fill up with less than edifying things that leave you wanting.

I spend time everyday reflecting upon understanding, accepting and managing myself. It’s something I’ve been committed to since I was 18 years old and it hasn’t let me down yet. In fact, each year seems to get better and better. I encourage you to commit to work toward a better understanding, acceptance and management of the most important thing in your life—yourself.

© 2011 Joe Caruso, Caruso Leadership Institute. For more information, visit

Author's Bio: 

Author, Keynote Speaker, and Business Consultant Joe Caruso works with CEO’s, Admirals, and leadership teams on the essence of change for success. He has proven to be a high-powered advisor in many different industries and is in demand as a featured keynote speaker, business advisor and consultant with numerous prestigious organizations, especially fast-growing companies and turnarounds. Joe's popular book, The Power of Losing Control, is about to be released an an eBook.