Strangers Unto Ourselves

Posted on 23. Apr, 2013 by in Blog, Character, Communication, Lead From Within, Leadership, Leadership Development, Life Skills, Personal Development, Relationships, Self Help, Workplace

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 8.49.54 AM

“Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, These three alone lead life to sovereign power.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

For those of us who lead, traits like self-awareness and self-control should be a natural part of our emotional intelligence. But we might not know ourselves as well as we think we do.

Imagine someone in a coaching session. Asked to describe himself, he gives a list of positive traits: hard-working, caring for others, sensitive, with a passion for order, excellence, and doing great work.

Now he’s asked a new question: What do you think your co-workers would say about you? About the same, he replies.

He’s stunned to learn that some of his peers and colleagues have issues with his actions.

What he sees as working hard, others see as him believing that no one is good enough to delegate to, and that he has to do it all himself.

What he sees as caring for others, others see as a disrespectful inattention to boundaries, not asking enough questions before telling people what they need to do.

What he considers sensitivity comes across to others as emotional distance.

Sometimes we have a huge blind spot when it comes to ourselves.

 

And this blindness to our own character leads us to imperfect choices and conclusions.

In this case, intense questioning about beliefs and triggers opened up the belief that, on a deep subconscious level, this leader didn’t feel worthy of his position.

So even though on the conscious level he believed he was acting positively, his subconscious anger and insecurity were leading him in ways that kept him from engaging with his team. His unconscious mind was driving all his actions, and everyone could see it except him.

Sometimes we have to rethink what we think we know about ourselves, acknowledge the possibility that we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do.

 

Most of us we think we are okay, even when our encounters and relationships give us evidence to the contrary. Our conscious mind selects, evaluates, and interprets information that confirms what we wish to believe.

To really know ourselves, we have to see ourselves through the eyes of others.

 

We have to be willing to open up the things that we successfully hide from ourselves, and overcome the resistance to dig deep into our inner life.

Just as we lead others with heart, we have to observe ourselves and the reactions that others have to us not with with heart:

  • Listen to the feedback you get from others.
  • Ask yourself courageous questions.
  • Observe the ways your conscious mind sabotages your own self-awareness.
  • And, most importantly, don’t assume that you are immune from the influence of inner demons.

Lead From Within: As heart-based leaders we must bring our unconscious stories to our conscious narrative if we are to avoid being a stranger to ourselves.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

43 Responses to “Strangers Unto Ourselves”

  1. Martina

    23. Apr, 2013

    Excellent post, as always, Lolly, and timely.

    Yes, we must be brave enough to look into those corners where we hide our true selves from ourselves and from the rest of the world. Most people don’t realize that others can see your vulnerabilities, even when you cannot.

    And, we must listen to and address all of the voices playing in our heads; the negative self-sabotaging ones as well as the positive affirming ones. We have to eventually figure out who we are to live an integrated life and give heart-based leadership.

    It is vitally important to have at least one person in your life who you will actually listen to who can speak truth and life to you. We are all imperfect creatures, and many times we think we have it all together is when we are most lilely to be headed for a big fall.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      the truth is even with deep awareness there is not much we can do to control the unconscious inferences that we expose of ourselves. the best approach is to try to perform the self perception process consciously as well as we can. in this way our inner narrative are likely to match our outer stories and actions.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Skip Prichard

    23. Apr, 2013

    The journey within is always the more difficult path, but always the most rewarding and productive.

    I agree with Martina. Most of us think that we are hiding our vulnerabilities (especially in the workforce) when, in reality, others see them better than we do.

    There’s nothing like a supportive team around you who help guide you when you walk into a blind spot.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      supportive teams are great and sometimes however we have feelings of which we are not fully aware, and the self perception process has the potential to reveal these feelings.

      And so we must dig deeper, because there is a part of our brain that engages in the self perception process and it infers on how we feel and what we do.

      our goal shall always be to one of attentiveness where we draw upon our unconscious interferences about our to nature of ourselves and how we are previewed and perceived by the outside world.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Alli Polin

    23. Apr, 2013

    Lolly – too often team members are not brave enough to tell leaders the truth even when they ask for it – especially when they sense that the leader does not really want to hear the real deal.

    Hearing and internalizing the truth can be a hard journey to take but one that can lead to important changes. A partner (coach, mentor, colleague, friend) that’s loves us enough to hold us accountable to our hidden truth is invaluable.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      Alli,

      Great teams are most effective when everyone is at the same level of motivation, feedback, support/

      I believe instead of saying “accountable” the way you expressed it, I would say be responsible.

      Great teams respond to each other with external accountability.

      “responsibility” is an internal experience. it is a mindset that facilitates the bringing about of some result.

      While responsibility is an internal quality, accountability is an external one.

      So we need for each of us TO RESPOND TO EACH OTHER so we can be accountable.

      Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      For us to be better leaders we must field our unconscious which is our mental processes that are inaccessible to consciousness but that do influence our judgments, feelings, or behaviors and we need to be mindful to our actions.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Lalita Raman

    23. Apr, 2013

    Excellent post Lolly. The journey within and exploring who we are and listening to our inner voice is one of the most difficult things to do.

    There are many times we choose to not listen to our inner voice because it doesn’t suit us at that time or fear overcomes us.

    Others perspectives and view points are good and should be considered but I think self awareness and knowing who I am and who I will be especially in challenging circumstances is the most important.

    We need to live with ourselves the longest and thus need to be aware of ourselves the most. We need to evaluate ourselves at every juncture and change when necessary. Change begins with me.

    I agree with Martina on her comment on we are all imperfect creatures and with Alli on her comment on internalizing the truth.

    I read all your posts but this is the first time I’m commenting on your post :)

    Thank you
    Lalita

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      I am happy Lalita that you have come here today.

      Yes we need to look within, but its deeper then that its the part of the unconscious that is the key element.

      We can look within and see ourselves a certain way, its the part that others experience with us that we need to circle back to.

      Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us. I hope you comment more often. I like to know what you are thinking.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  5. Terri Klass

    23. Apr, 2013

    Great and interesting post, Lolly! Looking inwards honestly can be very challenging for many leaders. First, there is always a disconnect when a leader sees him or herself as being influential and feeling they have no impact on their team. Taking stock in who we are and how we come across is critical. I love your idea for trying to be in someone else’s shoes when looking inward. In the end, if we can’t be authentic with ourselves, we can never be authentic with others.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      You are so correct Terri, it is hard to look within, not just on the surface layer but on the unconscious layer.
      It is hard for leaders, parents, adults and all. And if we want to live our fullest purpose we have to do our best at who we are.
      And thus we need to know ourselves and not be strangers unto ourselves.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Praveen Kumar

    23. Apr, 2013

    Now I understood what is the real meaning of “Lead From Within” This post is will work very effectively on those who predicts them as a leader for everyone.. as you mean, the first and foremost thing we need to do is ask a question ourselves.. Just giving an answer which attracts is not enough.. but we need to justify for that.. and we cannot judge ourselves although, we need to leave that option to others. finally people will always receive us how they want not how we express.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      Yes Praveen this is the essence of lead from within, lead from within is mindful not only of our conscious but unconscious thoughts and reactions.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  7. Rich Largman

    23. Apr, 2013

    Another great post, Lolly. This obviously applies to all relationships, not just leadership dynamics. And of course, not so ironically, just this morning I had a discussion with a woman I am in a relationship with where this concept was front and center.

    How she saw my recent actions was dramatically different than how I saw or intended them. While I may not agree with her, I have to be open to the fact that her insights are important to consider and are indeed another truth to be looked at. And, as if to add an exclamation point to that possibility, your email arrived as soon as I got off the phone with her.

    I imagine the best leaders, and relationships, are those that are open to seeing this other perspective and are willing to be coached on them.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      Rich,

      There are no accidents- this post was written for you and me and everyone who happens to read it.

      I am happy that you are in a relationship – I am even happier that you have an open mind. open heart and open will to look within and see what you set forth and the consequences it may have.

      I appreciate your vulnerability and your candor in sharing and I believe because of that your girl friend is very lucky lady.

      Wishing you the best of luck in all that you do.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  8. Jelena

    23. Apr, 2013

    We should often be reminded about this fact- that others often perceive us differently than we perceive ourselfs. What I read made me think about how do we know if these perceptions are different. I belive that if there is a discrepance we can not feel really connected to others, maybe that could be a sign that it is time to look inside.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      23. Apr, 2013

      Jelena,

      You are right, if there are discrepancies maybe this is a sign to look within.
      Thanks for your added wisdom to a very personal topic.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
      • Jelena

        23. Apr, 2013

        Thank you Lolly for this great blog. I`ve found it just recently and made me very happy to know that there is so much wisdom, encouragement and nurturing here.

        Reply to this comment
  9. Craig Holloman

    23. Apr, 2013

    Thanks for the inspiration! Ties in nicely with my recent blog related to management malfunctions and how to “not” be one of those managers that’s always thought of and spoken about in a negative manner. Love your insight on this.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Daymond

    23. Apr, 2013

    Definitely, the truth from within. Quite difficult is to unearth the reality of ourselves.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Thank you for this blog post. I’m on my own personal enlightenment journey and the biggest realization I’ve had is that we often see ourselves very differently than we are, whether it be for lack of insight or because we’re afraid to look at ourselves in our true light. Your blog always gets me thinking!

    Reply to this comment
  12. Ted Whetstone

    23. Apr, 2013

    It’s so freeing to just be seen and heard for who you are. Yet, for some reason we work really hard to avoid that!

    I really hear you saying, “Get out of your head!” What a relief: it’s noisy in here! Imagine if we all did and lived in the listening of others…what kind of world would that be? Unrecognizable and interesting to say the least!

    Reply to this comment
  13. Simon Harvey

    23. Apr, 2013

    Oooooooo, and I just finished leaving an epistle on Samantha Hall ‏@Samantha_S_Hall blog, who is your guest tonight and you drop this in my lap, Ice Cream and now I have to add a flake, Yummy!

    You are so great Lolly to offer such insight and understanding, it is a joy to read your posts and reflect on them and grow. How easy it is to offer up perspectives of what others look like, but how difficult is it when it comes to looking within.

    Perhaps it is because when we look at our shadow we never see the perspective that others see. We do not see our profile but see the front that we show others. For sure we rarely see the strengths and knowledge of a person head on, this we tend to see later when we can stand back and we see their profile.

    And so as you say we learn about ourselves as we listen to others, we start to see how they see and can vicarious learn something new in ourselves.

    We must connect to understand what it is others see in us, we must connect within to see love, to receive love from others we must let go of our truths and open out hearts to that which we have not yet found. The truth of our spirit the nature of our soul and our connection to our one commonality, humanity.

    We are strangers to ourselves until we are willing to open our hearts and minds to each other, then we can grow, we can embrace our human fallibility and know that when we connect we are one, we can leadfromwithin and live in life’s flow.

    Awesome post, as per usual Lolly,

    :)

    Simon

    Reply to this comment
  14. blair

    23. Apr, 2013

    One of the greatest things about training as a drama therapist was the variety of techniques and experiences of Role Reversal — that is when you stand in someone else’s shoes and mirror them back to themselves, and vice versa.
    It is so humbling and humorous to watch someone “be” you.
    All by ourselves it is near impossible to catch those darting, hidden motives and unconscious behaviors, even with the greatest of inner disciplines.
    I’ll never forget the first time someone reflected my defensiveness back to me. It was startling and had an immediate impact on future reactivity.
    With the help of others in a playful environment, it is easier to witness and feel the effects of your actions on others.
    Thanks for an incredible post.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      28. Apr, 2013

      Thank you Blair and you are correct. We need to sometimes experience ourselves as we step into another shoe.

      GREAT INSIGHT.

      Reply to this comment
  15. Jon Mertz

    24. Apr, 2013

    Very insightful and inspiring, Lolly. I think you are right. At times, we don’t know ourselves as well as we think, or we are unwilling to address the reality of what we know and take different steps to embrace the path we should take.

    I believe mindful practices can help us discover more, recognize patterns, and then begin to make the adjustments. Your points are essential.

    Thanks! Jon

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      28. Apr, 2013

      You are correct Jon at times we dont know ourselves as well as we think…
      I really appreciated your comment but it adds great layers of truth to the article.
      Thanks Jon!

      Reply to this comment
  16. Sharon Reed

    24. Apr, 2013

    A wonderful post, Lolly! It definitely hit a chord as I reflected back on a conversation I once had with a friend who works in talent planning & engagement. He told me that how we see ourselves is only half of who we are — that others’ perceptions of us are vital to us fully understanding ourselves and to becoming effective leaders. The challenge, then, is to stay open, listen, and receive feedback without judgement — easier said than done!

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your wisdom and insights with us.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      29. Apr, 2013

      it is important to know who we are and its just as important to know what messages we are giving to others about ourselves.
      it is not as if who we are holds any secrets. if we are only seeing one part of the essence of ourselves, positive or negative
      that is all we will be able to make real to anybody else.

      if we separate ourselves from our true self, then we end up diminishing parts of ourselves.

      the biggest mistake we can do is become filled with illusions of ourselves.

      Reply to this comment
  17. Jan Hills

    25. Apr, 2013

    Really like what you have to say. There is evidence that people who practice mindfulness meditation can be more aware and more able to push the stop button before they react, there are also great suggestions from readers like learning to put yourself in other shoe.
    I foresee a time when these skills will be expected/ the base case for all leaders. it seems impossible now but so did discussions of culture 35 years ago. For some insight on self awareness you might like this animated video on the neuroscience
    http://www.headheartbrain.com/know-thy-self-2/

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      29. Apr, 2013

      being aware is a commitment that we renew everyday to awaken and to express our uniqueness, creativeness, inner beauty, and unlimited potential of our leadership.

      Reply to this comment
  18. Scott Mabry

    25. Apr, 2013

    Self awareness is a leader’s best friend. As you noted Lolly it requires us to be intentional about seeking the truth outside of our own perception. This is where it all starts. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas on this very important topic.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      29. Apr, 2013

      Scott,

      we make choices every moment of our lives, healthy ones and unhealthy ones, it may not seem like we choose our unconsciousness, but we do.

      we can use this information for living our purpose or we can remain victims of our ego.

      We always have a choice

      We must choose wisely.

      Reply to this comment
  19. Terri O'Brien

    25. Apr, 2013

    Hi Lolly,

    I am drawn to your writing today as I ponder my own blind spots. I love the reminder to ask courageous questions. Living in the questions is the path to continuous growth and change.

    The courage to look at what is present is vital to leadership.

    Thanks again Lolly

    Terri O’Brien

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      29. Apr, 2013

      Terri,

      Truth: Living in the questions is the path to continuous growth and change.

      Thanks for your insightful comment.

      Reply to this comment
  20. dawoodchishti

    27. Apr, 2013

    See through the eyes of others and adventure within is infact the beauty of your soul and boldness of your being. Lolly! Continue to enlighten the people! of the globe.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Warwick Taylor

    28. Apr, 2013

    Wow! This is so powerful! Thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Yury Moskaltsov

    28. Apr, 2013

    Hi Lolly,

    Thanks for the great post. I just wanted to ask if you think that how others see us is more truthful than what we believe we are? My opinion is that it is great on the first stages of your development when you are manipulated by your ego but when you go to your goal because it is congruent with your inner values then trusting others more than yourself might not be the best strategy. What do you think about it?

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      28. Apr, 2013

      Life is a combination of how we self reflect and how others see us. even if your inner values are leading, we ALL have blindspots and triggers that make us act out in our conscious ways that come from our unconscious layer. So to answer your question. We need to always self reflect but we do need to listen to feedback IF the feedback seems to always be the same and the feedback illuminates a pattern within ourselves we might not have noticed.

      Reply to this comment
  23. Yury Moskaltsov

    29. Apr, 2013

    Thank you for the reply Lolly! It helps me expand my perception on the topic of the feedback from other people!

    Reply to this comment
  24. Dorothy Dalton

    29. Apr, 2013

    Hi Lolly – you are right qualities can have a double edge and carry positive and negative aspects. Always good to be mindful of them. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply