06/02/2020 by Alister Albert 0 Comments
As-Is vs. To-Be: Self-SWOTing with Alister Albert
Whilst juggling work as a Business Analyst alongside being an Actor and Writer, I’ve learned quite a few methodologies, tools and techniques used to analyse, improve and assess businesses, their processes and how to make their operations more efficient. As creatives however, we’re constantly told by our agents/representatives, other self-help platforms, motivational speakers and careers advisors that managing yourself effectively and in a “business-like manner,” is one of the best ways to climb the personal, professional and more importantly (to this website) the entertainment industry ladder.
As seen in my previous article touting Agile methodology as a way to personally improve, incrementally (using the famous Dan LeBatard Show from Miami as an entertainment case study), we as individuals can also tailor some business improvement approaches for our personal use; implementing them in ways that can improve or further enhance our own circumstances.
One simple analysis technique used in business to assess the current environment and several tangible and intangible elements connected to an organisation is S.W.O.T. analysis. Perhaps you may have heard of it at some introductory (or even advanced) business class at school, years ago! If you were awake whilst that lesson was being taught or you've read the cumbersome textbooks, you’d know that the acronym S.W.O.T. stands for highlighting the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats associated with a business. The great thing about S.W.O.T. is its flexible applicability across a business, at various levels. It can be used to assess the entire business (as a collective) and all its components as one entity (for example team(s), brand, assets, etc). However, it can also be suitable for analysing a single individual and the various skills, resources and deficiencies they may bring to the table.
S.W.O.T analysis is a great starting point and a way to understand the pros and cons of many situations. Completing it thoroughly (and alongside other analysis techniques) can provide the scope for sketching a roadmap to improvement; once done with the utmost transparency and honesty. Without the willingness to be open and honest about what you’re analysing, S.W.O.T. analysis is useless. It heavily relies on understanding the status quo or the “As-Is,” to know how to approach getting to the “To-Be” or a desired state in the future. To get to the “To-Be,” it is key to understand the existing variables at play that contribute to or hinder, getting to the desire outcome.
This will immensely assist with the prioritisation and achievement of goals from stated opportunities, whilst utilising noted strengths. Conversely, it allows for work to commence on challenging communicated weaknesses, leading to finding ways to eradicate them and also mitigating against threats that are within and even out of your control, through planning and preparation.
To make this Actors’ Post-relevant by suggesting something that can be used by creatives to promote self-analysis, reflection and improvement, I decided to personally complete a S.W.O.T. template. I “analysed” myself to demonstrate how the tool can aid recognising personal strengths and highlighting development opportunities. This was a very useful exercise that I needed to undergo but was also triggered by a time where I was overcome with self-doubt and needed the proverbial “good look in the mirror” to take stock of who and where I was, with regards to my personal ambitions. I literally had to ask myself, “what have I achieved and what skills have I acquired (the “As-Is” or the current state of “me,” as a person) and what more do I need to do, to get where I need to be (the “To-Be”)? These questions became the necessary evil of self-reflection for understanding the Gemini, Alister Albert, what he’s good and crap at…and also, what makes him tick!
Doing this activity was weirdly satisfying but equally daunting. For those who will attempt this, when fully engaged with the exercise, it is pleasantly cathartic and enables deep introspection, which most busy persons (like myself) do not do enough of. Additionally, it is important to complete objectively as much possible, to allow this to be useful. Therefore, asking friends and family their opinions of you and what you’re good and not-so-good at, to get a 360-degree snapshot of you and to understand any blind-spots you have as an individual, is also a good idea! Think of your loved ones who will hopefully give unbiased feedback as auditors. Just as in the business world, auditors come in and appraise business operations and documents, being the impartial bodies who will present truth and accurate evidence about its operations. Being receptive to other people’s perceptions of you as well (think of this as an audit), is crucial to getting the full picture and will contribute to any self-improvement activity you may deem necessary and will undertake as a result of this exercise.
For me, articulating and exposing my weaknesses, was less fun but essential to understand the elements requiring improvement and the internal and external threats that could hinder my progress towards becoming a better Actor and Writer most importantly. The results were interesting to say the least! (Snapshot of the results can be found in the photo gallery at end of article)
We as individuals have a tendency to be overly self-critical. For some, this can work like fuel- keeping their motivation to be better burning and driving action towards positive outcomes, quickly. However, for many others, harsh and constant self-criticism and denigration from others can be personally damaging. This is especially true for entertainers and creatives, who heavily rely on confidence in themselves and their abilities to be successful. A lack of that self-confidence therefore could be harmful to our psyche and self-concept, which consequently could affect us as persons, our brands being crafted and the work put out in the industry.
If we start believing negative critiques or think disparaging labels are true and/or inescapable, it may be a losing battle…until you learn how to turn them into motivators. Learning very early how to turn those into inspiration for self-enhancement can make them beneficial and act as fuel for personal betterment and excellence.
Word of advice to youngsters, if negative critiques are constantly coming from a specific person or one set of people who very clearly don’t have you and your best interests at heart (Note: it may be difficult to recognise initially, as people who are close family and friends may also be culprits of this)- they’re probably just jealous of you! Being “different” to them (which could be the cause of their criticisms) is probably
a good thing! Perhaps you’ve heard that before….It’s true! Embrace your differences. Don’t blend in…Stand Out! In a good way and for the right reasons, of course!
Like in business, how you recover from setbacks, using the knowledge gained from an unfavourable outcome and transferring that knowledge into learning how to create opportunity is how many global brands have survived and grown for centuries. Failure to do so quickly can mean you having to work harder to regain your momentum or at worst, contribute to your demise.
As it was for me, I’m sure it will be for many of you readers who have completed a self-SWOT; I was surprised at how many more Strengths and Opportunities there were, when compared to the number of weaknesses and threats I noted. That’s probably linked to me rightfully noting that I can be “too self-critical.” The great thing about weaknesses and threats though, they can very easily be turned into opportunities. Taking weaknesses and making them items for improvement, prioritising them according to your desires and giving yourself a timeline to “rectify” them can form the basis of a robust self-improvement plan.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Recognising them and finding ways to turn negatives into positives and optimising strengths and opportunities is how we improve and build our personal pathways to success. The journey however, is only as hard as you choose to make it. Sure, we all are individually limited by our resources (just like many start-up businesses) and getting to our desired “To-Be” can take a long time. However, persistence, having the zeal to improve and doing something about it incrementally, no matter how long it takes but with a plan, will almost guarantee the positive outcomes you seek!
So try SWOT-analysing yourself! It may reveal some really interesting facts about you that you probably need to see on paper/on a screen and you may not have known! Just like I learnt, you probably have loads more “Strengths” than “Weaknesses” and being overly self-critical and comparing yourself to others does you no favours. We all have our own paths in life to follow to achieve mastery in a skill we possess and the eventual success it will bring but don’t be daunted by your weaknesses! Assess them and choose the ones that are most important and require immediate improvement, build a plan to remedy them and execute it. You’ll only gain more strengths as you do so!
I’m about to embark on this self-improvement journey…hopefully this tool will give you a template to start and join me too!