Our oldest son is a witty, lego-obsessed, Harry-Potter-loving ten year old, in all the best ways possible. I’m his mama and I think he’s terrific.
Everywhere we go people tell me “he looks so much like you, Sharon!” Strangers will see him in a group and remark at how easy it is to tell that we’re related since we “look so much alike.” My mother even jokes that she knows what I would look like if I had been born a boy! The genes are strong.
Yet, I don’t see it.
To me, he’s the spitting image of my husband. All of his facial expressions, his body type, his smile… everything reminds me of his father. I acknowledge what everyone says, and I’m sure it’s true, but still… I see Peter!
How is it possible that I don’t see what is so obvious to everyone else?
The simplest explanation is that I don’t really know what I look like.
Sure, I see images or videos of myself, but I’m at a disadvantage to everyone else who can see my mannerisms, watch my facial expressions, hear my tone of voice. I don’t know myself well enough to recognize myself in him. Conversely, I have spent much of my adult life with my husband, so it’s easy for me to spot his traits and characteristics in our son.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Do other people see something that just isn’t obvious from your perspective?
While we think we know ourselves, I find that we often have big, gaping, holes in our self-perception and our ability to self-assess. That is one of the reasons it really helps to collaborate with another person.
Recently, I was talking with a mentor and she said: “Sharon you are really good about seeing the best in other people; recognizing their talents and pulling it out of them. You really care about them.” I was blessed by her compliment but surprised to realize that I wouldn’t have defined myself that way. Yet, her words resonated with me as I applied them to several experiences in my recent history. She was right! She saw things in me that I had overlooked!
Why can I be so good at helping others, but it is so hard for me to help myself?
You know it. I know it. It is really hard to coach yourself. We can offer brilliant insights to clients and customers but STRUGGLE to apply our own advice.
Time Constraints: Since clients generate income, we prioritize our client work and tell ourselves “I’ll get to that later.” Five months later, and “later” has never arrived! We neglect the hard work that goes into transforming ourselves and justify it because we work so hard to support our clients.
Lack of Objectivity: Just as in the analogy I started with, we don’t have objectivity when we are looking at ourselves. We can’t offer constructive criticism on things we’ve written. We often overlook gaps in our strategies. We allow ourselves too much flexibility on meeting deadlines. Our blind spots can be our own worst enemies.
Routine: We have a natural tendency to stay comfortable. We see solutions based on the tools we already have at our disposal without recognizing that other solutions may serve us better. Andrew Maslow’s famous quote reminds us of this:
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
Thinking outside our own perspective, stretching our minds to embrace new approaches is a really challenging thing to do individually. Perhaps you can find refinements, but alternate solutions? Much harder. This often why we get repeatedly stuck doing work that is distracting or tertiary but won’t get us closer to our goals.
Have you experienced something similar? Why do you think it’s so hard to coach yourself?