There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.
~ Aldous Huxley
WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR with the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, and how the Queen, Maleficent, would often consult with her mirror about who was the fairest of them all in her domain. The mirror always told the Queen that she was the fairest of them all, until, one day, the mirror professes that Snow White has grown into a beautiful woman and is the fairest of them all. No sooner were the words spoken, that the queen smashed the mirror in her rage. Although beautiful on the outside, the Queen suffered from inferiority, jealousy, and was terribly vain.
A similar story is about King David, and his mirror was the prophet, Nathan. When the King asked David who is the wickedest man on earth, Nathan spoke the truth, stating that the King was the wickedest man on earth. Like the Queen in Sleeping Beauty, the King was enraged. What is telling in these stories is both the Queen and the King asked their confidant a question that would feed into their vanity which implies that they were not really sincere about the question. Stories, myths, and fairy tales have value, and in these examples, we are shown what can happen when we are told a truth about ourselves that we do not want to hear or believe is valid.
What else can be gleaned from these stories?
- It can be lonely at the top, therefore, you need a thought partner
- People at the top can be insecure and not only need reassurance but consciously seek it out
- People often act arrogant and powerful to mask their lack of confidence
- Individuals at the top can be unaware of their blind spots – behaviors, weaknesses and often biases that they cannot see but those around them can
- There is an unwillingness to receive the feedback because it does not fit into their self-perception and they can become defensive which leads to anger
We all need assurance at times, and yet, how often do we seek out honest feedback? More often what occurs, is that someone may open up and tell us something about ourselves that we don’t want to hear and when that happens, we become defensive, enraged like the Queen and King, and resist this piece of information as unwarranted.
Has this ever happened to you?
Did someone in your life ever tell you something about yourself which upset you to the core?
How did you respond?
When we have a strong negative reaction, there can often be some truth in the reflection being shared. Perhaps we feel “blind-sided” by the information about ourselves that we were unaware of. The essential nature of blind spots is that we don’t notice them ourselves. A leader who does not recognize and address blind spots reduces their effectiveness as a leader.
Not only do we need to be open to the feedback, we need to be willing to take action and do something about it. What are the steps to take?
- Take in the feedback and accept it
- Let go of preconceived notions about yourself
- Accept your imperfection
- Commit to changing the behavior/s pointed out to you
- Work with a coach because changing patterns, especially blind spots is difficult and can take about six months for the change to last.
Patience is required as well. One of my clients becomes so frustrated when I point out to him that he did the same behavior. In exasperation he asked, “How come I didn’t see that myself?” Our blind spots can show up in many disguises, they are insidious, and bringing self-awareness is the first step in this journey. Eventually, with the awareness and the intention to change it, the behavior will change. Ask for feedback from your colleagues so that you can measure your success. The benefits of self-awareness and being open to feedback are great! Remember, Success Starts With You.
Your comments and likes are always appreciated. Two assessments to gain greater insight and self-awareness are the EQi – 2.0 assessment and the EQ – 360 assessment. Send me an email if you want to learn more @ firstname.lastname@example.org.