Self-awareness as the key to unlock success

Self-awareness is everything

When you work with Tibor Olgers, you get the opportunity to work with lots of interesting people. On our latest Mankracht retreat, I had the pleasure of meeting Eelco Smit, the exit guru. The consigliere behind the scenes of some the major business deals in Holland. His key message; be self-aware.


I picked up a few other things from Eelco:

  • Know your exit number
  • Everything is a choice
  • Stop bullshitting yourself and stop bullshitting others
  • Find your zone of genius

The Not So Secret Rules to the Game of Life

He is also the author of “The Not So Secret Rules to the Game of Life | For People with the Guts to Live Consciously”. A book that was way ahead of its time. A hardball version of “Breaking the habit of being yourself”. The book is much better than ‘The subtle art of not giving a fuck”  and as good as “The code of the extraordinary mind”, which is one of my favourite books.

The message

The message of his book is simple. You need to be aware. Life is a series of decisions and choices. Most people tip-toe their way through life, hoping to make it safely to their death. You are responsible for those choices. Life is a decision. We all have the intellect and free will and yet we willingly go along with the constant stream of bullshit that is being deposited on our heads.

You are a fool

We live in a society where we know the price of anything but the value of nothing. We keep kidding ourselves.
We find satisfaction in surrogates. We confuse non-essential needs with essential needs because we think we cannot satisfy our essential needs.

You need a kick up the ass

What you do need is someone or something to drag you from your routine and to kick your ass. Because later never comes. You cannot find yourself. There is no liberation or salvation, no nirvana. There is no way out. There is only awareness, life in the here and now. You are already free and unlimited. You limit yourself only by the fog of negative beliefs about yourself, others and the world.

Dutch reality therapy

The book is a very healthy dose of reality therapy, written in the way only a Dutch person can.

  • Unconscious is ignorance
  • You are scarred and programmed by your upbringing
  • 95% of your life plays out in your subconscious. 95% of your behaviour and your life is based on taught and conditioned behaviour from the past of which you are not aware.
  • A person has about 60,000 thoughts a day, from which 95% are the same as yesterday and the biggest part is also negative because they are based on fear.
  • You are not your thoughts, you are not your possessions, you’re not even your body and you’re also not your instincts.
  • The goal of life is life with one purpose, namely being aware.
  • Happiness is not more money, more success and more power. It is also not less money, less success or less power. It is looking at your success, money and power from a different perspective.
  • You are a set of basic fears, coping mechanisms and identities.
  • You are the story you tell yourself (or you are the story other people tell you).
  • We often confuse emotions with the needs and instincts.

Unlock yourself

We see things not the way they are. We see them the way we are. Self-awareness is the key to unlock yourself. You need someone with a high-pressure sprayer to spray the sand out of your eyes and confront you with the facts of your own life. Somebody to make you accountable. That is precisely the function of a coach.

Johari window

Using tools such as the Johari-window. It exists of four quadrants, based on two criteria: what you do and do not know about yourself and what others do and do not know about you. That result in 4 quadrants:

  1. Arena: This is public information that is known by everybody and about which can be communicated.
  2. Blind Spot: You yourself are not aware of this information, but others are.
  3. Façade: This is information that you know about yourself, but others do not, such as secrets that you have, your thoughts, and feelings that you keep hidden from others.
  4. The Unknown: This information is unknown to anyone, and nothing can be communicated about this, but that does not mean that this quadrant does not influence your communication and your life. On the contrary: the unaware convictions that are nested here determine a very big part of your life without you knowing it. You could also call the Unknown the subconscious. The fourth quadrant is the most persistent one to influence. Unaware is ignorant! It is a fact that we experience just a minor percentage (about 0.01%) of all our perceptions consciously.


Using release Technique and PMA, as well as Eelco’s own hybrid technique, PMART, all aimed at the deprogramming of unconscious convictions.

Facts of life

Or techniques such as writing down your life story. Writing down the facts of your life up until now and analyse which convictions and identities those facts are the result of. Where did you come from? What are you looking for? Where are you now?

Awareness is everything

What you are aware of you are in control of. What you are not aware of is in control of you. Unfortunately, you are covered with so much callous, ballast and bullshit that you do not realise it. Can you ever totally cut loose from your conditioning, your own story? No, but you can be aware of your conditioning, take a position with respect to your beliefs and accept you do certain things just because you do them.

You are already free

If we could unlearn all the acquired, deprogram all our beliefs and programs, clear our head, then it turns out that we already are free and unbounded. That we already are conscious. That we are already connected in freedom to others. Love instead of affection.

In short

Happiness = being aware + success.

A flavour of the book

To give you a flavour of the book (and not doing it justice):

  • You cannot change what you do not acknowledge.
  • Being aware of who you are is the only thing there is in life. That means: not being what you are not and accepting what you are.
  • You have to accept the pain before you can let it go. You will never be aware of yourself the whole 100%, but even if you only reach 50%, you are a whole new person!
  • Only in the present can you be aware of who you are, instead of who you were or whom you want to become.
  • Only in the present can you capture the little signals of happiness. Someone who smiles at you in the street, a great sandwich, playing with your dog.
  • Constructive habits require discipline.
  • Successful people do what less successful people are not prepared to do or are too lazy to do.
  • Work out every morning for half an hour, and you will feel much better.
  • Unless you have a medical (physical or neurological) problem, quit your medicines.
  • Quit all those funny diets, but just make sure that you eat healthy, moderately and varied.
  • Every day take a multi-vitamin pill.
  • Stick to the basic rule that you cannot spend what you do not have.
  • Make sure that your health and your financial situation do not cost unnecessary energy.
  • Stop complaining.
  • Even if you have screwed up everything, you can still eat if you are hungry and sleep somewhere warm and dry.
  • Life is neither fair nor unfair. It is the way it is. If you see the situation as it is, if you look at it objectively as a silent spectator, the solutions and needed action always come of its own accord.
  • It is your reaction to the situation that determines your happiness and success.
  • Do not think you can get rid of your identities and masks. You just have them, including those you are less happy about. You will not get rid of your basic fear and vicious selves. The question is not how to get rid of them, but how to deal with them.
  • Everything you do cost energy, so, the more constructive you use your energy, the easier life gets.
  • Where you focus your attention on, energy follows.
  • Be impeccable with your words. Impeccable literally means without sin (from peccatus, Latin for sin). This means, do not gossip, speak badly, or speak negatively about yourself or others.
  • Do not make any assumptions. How often do we base our opinions and deeds on things we have heard somewhere once, on stories we know only half or simply on our own rusted ideas.
  • Do not take anything personally.
  • Always try your hardest.
  • Happiness is satisfaction and balance in all areas of your life.
  • Living consciously is an undertaking.
  • Living consciously is a top-class sport.
  • If you set clear and concrete goals for yourself, eliminate the interferences between you and your goal and go for it with total conviction, then your goals will become self-fulfilling prophecies.
  • Reaching goals never happen without making the goal concrete first, making a training schedule and maintaining that.
  • Everything is a choice.

You need help

Reading a book about changing your life is not enough to change your life. Read that sentence one more time. You need someone, who has made the journey once before. Someone, who makes sure that you will not get lost, whom you can take with you step by step, who can inspire and support, and someone who could kick your but if you threaten to quit. Eelco tells his clients that he is the baseball bat behind the door to keep them on track.

Most of all you need to do. To make the choice and accept the pain and trade-offs. To have the guts to live consciously.

The book ends like this

Be aware of your thoughts, because they become words. Be aware of your words, because they become actions. Be aware of your actions, because they become habits. Be aware of your habits, because they become identities. Be aware of your identities, because they become your destiny.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. God is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East

The above could have been from “Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East”, by Spalding, my old time favourite book. In my view, it says something about the quality of Eelco’s book. Highly recommended for everyone. Particularly males (you will understand when you read it).

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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