You Can’t Read the Label From Inside the Bottle

I recently sat in a room with over seventy entrepreneurs, each one smart, talented, hardworking and impressive.  I was literally surrounded by the best and brightest people each one doing outstanding work. This was a team of Rock Stars.

Yet, even in a group of highly successful entrepreneurs, I noticed a trend throughout the course of the three days together.

Most people can’t see themselves very clearly.

In fact, people were often experts on the very topic that they needed the most help with!

  • A leading scholar in her chosen field with YEARS of experience training and coaching executives. She was having a hard time recognizing herself as an expert.
  • A marketer who is gifted with the ability to write beautiful and compelling stories for his clients.  He was struggling to articulate the value he brings in the work he offers.
  • A coach who had guided entrepreneurs through major career transitions into work that was lucrative and fulfilling.  She struggled with confidence and feelings of illegitimacy.
  • A world-class writer with a gift for connecting with people and bylines in major publications.  She feels insecure and wonders if her work is good enough.
  • A beautiful musician who creates joy and wonder for the people around her while unlocking opportunities with her insight.  She wonders if people care about her journey.

Of course, the irony is that every other person in the room could clearly see what they were blind to.  It was as obvious to us as a lighthouse on the side of a cliff. The participants would ask a question and the whole room would YELL the response to affirm and remind them.  Yet, their internal lense was blind to it.

And that is when I heard the wonderful southern idiom:

“You can’t read the label from inside the bottle”

That’s it. That was on display again, and again, and again.

We can’t see ourselves clearly.

You can’t be objective to the beauty of your story or the wonder of your craft.  Where you see warts and failures and fears and mess ups, the world sees a beautiful story and the wonder of your talents.  You will miss opportunities that are right in front of your eyes if you rely exclusively on your own self-perception.  And that is why there is so much value in a business coach who can bring those strengths to the forefront.

Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?   Tell me about it in the comments.

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