5 years ago this month, my life changed forever.
Since age 9, I’ve known I had terrible vision. It started with a pair of gold rim glasses. I wore hard contacts lenses and soft contact lenses. I wore giant metal glasses which made me look like big dork. I wore hipster black rim glasses that helped me fit in while at local coffee shops and pastor conferences.
Five years ago, though, I had surgery and my vision was restored. Lenses were implanted in my eyes on top of the ones God gave me, which transformed my combined vision to 20-15. Just the weeks before, it had been 20/400. Today when I woke up, I didn’t have to reach for my glasses to see what time it is.
I rocked these awesome shades while working at Starbucks a couple days after the procedure. If only I had these in high school…
We All Need More Self-Awareness
While all of us are not nearly as myopic (near-sighted) as I was, we all have blind spots and lack total self-awareness. Those blind spots prevent us from having an accurate view of ourselves. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Self-awareness is a vital attribute for all of us.
I had a conversation earlier this week which reminded me that even despite my best efforts, when I communicate, I have blind spots. You’ve probably had one of those conversations recently too, where you realized “Crap, I totally missed that.” The best solution to all of our blind spots is seeking input and feedback from others who see more clearly and completely. We all need to have a greater perspective and none of us has a 360 degree view of ourselves.
Meet Gary Vaynerchuk
I love how entrepreneur and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk (pictured above) encourages and teaches his audiences to increase their self-awareness. In this popular video (notice: he uses salty language frequently), this is the process he promotes:
“If you do not have self-awareness (which I think I have and I think a lot of people don’t have it), the only way you can gain it is by getting other people to give you the data points. But most people won’t tell you the truth. So it’s on you to create an environment, a very safe environment, for somebody to tell you the truth. You say, ‘This is the most important question I will ever ask you in my life. You need to tell me the truth. My intuition is you’re not going to want to tell me the truth, but you have to understand I’m okay with it – I’m in the right mind space for this. I need the truth.’ Then you ask them, ‘What do you think I’m good at and what do you think I’m bad at?’ What do they think you’re truly good and bad at? And then gather that data.”
When our self-awareness is lacking, we must increase it using input from others who know us, observe us and have a trustworthy perspective. Self-awareness should help us discern future steps related to our work, our talents, our calling and our purpose. It helps us determine how to spend the limited time and energy we have.
In an article he wrote on Medium, Vaynerchuk also writes,
“Self-awareness allows people to recognize what things they do best so they can then go hard on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. I want people to learn to be at peace with themselves, to understand what they can offer, because everyone’s got something. The key, however, is learning how to find it. Self-awareness can help you do that. Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths. The moment you decide to accept your shortcomings and bet entirely on your strengths, things will change. Trust me.”
Tough Conversations Are Scary
These are not easy conversations. They cause a spike in our fears. Many of us (probably most of us) are afraid of asking other people the questions Gary mentioned. Those conversations not only require safety for others, but courage from all of us. But as I wrote this week in this guest post (and my prequel to it) for Thin Difference, much of what we want relationally and in our work lies on the other side of tough conversations. We have to wade into them, in spite of fear, if we want the buried treasure.
Here’s the truth for each of us. We have one life to live. Each of us has a unique set of gifts and talents to offer the world. We each have a story to tell.
We cannot waste our time and opportunities because we were blind (like me pre-2011) or because we were afraid to focus on our best offers. We can become more self-aware and we can make a difference in the world using our gifts, talents and experience.
A Self-Awareness Project
Here’s a crazy idea…what if you had one of those conversations this week like Gary outlined earlier? What if you sought someone out and created a safe environment for them to help you gain self-awareness? Could it happen today? What about tomorrow? Sure, it sounds scary, but as Jack Canfield wrote in his book, The Power of Focus, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
I’d love to know what you think about self-awareness and focusing on your strengths. Jump in the comments below or on comment on the post related to this article on social media.