We all have blind spots; we can’t see everything, even when we are looking. Whether its not seeing that other car when driving, failing to acknowledge that your eyesight is waning, or not anticipating that employer’s question, we all miss things that to others might be readily apparent. When it comes to presenting ourselves and our qualifications, we want to believe that we can see ourselves clearly; we “know ourselves”. Certainly, we have toiled, been tested, interviewed, evaluated, 360’ed enough to know who we are and how we are likely to be perceived. Yet, many of us fail to see things in a way that allow us to fully reflect our unique characteristics.
We know the phrase “takes one to know one” is overly simplistic and suggests that we have to be a certain way or possess certain skills or qualities, in order to see them in other people. We know this isn’t the case. I’d like to think that I can appreciate things in people that I am not, or that I can’t do. But being able to see these things in yourself, much less someone else, requires objectivity, non-judgment, maturity and a point of reference that can be elusive. That most natural point of reference is yourself; you make an assessment relative to what you are, what you know or believe – about yourself. But if you don’t know yourself, can’t see the true reflection in the mirror, then you are bound to miss some angles, some gifts, or areas for growth that are critically important, to yourself and others.
Depending on our predispositions and the breadth of our exposure, we appreciate and have tolerance for widely varying characteristics. It is this variance that shapes the lens through which we can see ourselves and others. Like any ocular instrument, you change the context and the perspective, and the picture changes. Unavoidably and understandably, the lens we select shapes and limits our choices. If I have determined – in my own mind – that my intuition and my ability to assess business situations is not necessarily valuable or relevant to an employer, then I don’t turn that angle to the light, as it were. I don’t let people see that aspect of myself and potentially miss the opportunity to demonstrate or convey something that could have been valued and utilized.
Similarly, if I don’t see that I have a tendency to cut people off when they are talking and invalidate their opinions and ideas, I might limit my personal or professional growth. I’ve missed a shadow of myself that others might perceive in a certain light; and that light might not be flattering. I risk being exposed, even blind-sided if I can’t see this tendency in myself. I likely can’t see it in other people either and probably allow that same practice to go on around me. You can see how these negative tendencies can be perpetuated if left in the dark.
Look at yourself. Establish your point of reference; consciously orient yourself with your own perspective – acknowledge it. Know where the shadows are coming from, the glare, the ghosts. Get out of your own way and see what you’ve not allowed yourself to see. You can look without seeing, but you can’t see if you are not looking.