Have you ever thought that you are on the right track only to discover later how far off the mark you are? It happens to me all the time – physically on the road but also on the paths of life. I recently had that experience during a coach supervision session – that’s when a professional coach receives a “check-in” and “check-up” from a supervisory coach. The purpose is to see yourself in the mirror, to lift your own level of self-awareness in order to see where you are with yourself (emotions, mood, energy), your clients and your coaching practices. What a surprise when I realised how I unintentionally and unconsciously overplayed or perhaps misunderstood my role, not serving others the best I most probably could. It was quite a shocker!
But, in the same conversation I also had the opposite experience. Some of my so called “best practices” were pointed out, appreciated and reinforced. I walked out of that session re-focused, uplifted and encouraged. And I had some goals for growth and improvement.
The Johari window is a useful model that helps us to understand that we have areas that are known and unknown by ourselves and others: open and hidden areas, but also blindspots. Other people get to know us when we disclose to them who we are – especially about those more hidden areas of our lives, like hidden talents, and practices and knowledge unknown to others. We get to know ourselves better when we receive feedback from others (e.g. about our blindspots or unknown weaknesses and strengths) or when we expose ourselves to a new experience. Disclosure, exposure and getting feedback are three of the most important processes to help us grow. (Check this model out at: https://www.communicationtheory.org/the-johari-window-model/).
The problem is that most of us do not often subject ourselves to settings where we can share some of our deepest experiences and get honest and helpful feedback. And therefore our personal growth towards maturity and contribution is often slow, shallow and limited. Your level of self-awareness determines your ability to navigate and develop your life. And that kind of self-awareness does not happen in your own subjective bubble. We need others to challenge us and give input and feedback. And then we need to listen open-mindedly without self-justifacation, self-defense or explanation.
I have recently challenged a group of professionals to do at least three things in order to grow this year, and this is also my challenge to you:
- Journalling: Get a journal. And then, on a regular basis (daily or weekly), make time to write down some of your thoughts and experiences. Be honest about some of your successes and failures, insights and struggles, and then perhaps conclude with specific goals you want to achieve, behaviour you want to change, and actions steps to be taken.
- Buddy / Accountability partner: Find yourself a buddy at work or elsewhere, someone who can be your accountability partner. This is an equal relationship where you check on each other and your growth. You also ask each other honest questions and challenge each other on certain issues.
- Mentorship: Ask someone that is perhaps further down the road than you are, to listen to you and speak into your life with wisdom and guidance. The meetings and conversations can take place on a monthly basis and must normally be initiated by you, the mentee. You share, the mentor listens, asks questions and gives input and wisdom where needed and possible. The mentor grows by contributing to you and being part of your journey, something that normally energises the normal person. And you benefit from his/her wisdom. Normally a real win-win.
I think we all want to avoid living in a fool’s paradise. Let’s get rid of our blindspots, and live life to the full of our potential contribution, and allow others to help us doing so.