The distance between someone’s self-awareness and reality can be appalling. In other words, there can be a big difference between what people think is true about themselves and what is actually true. If you don’t believe me just turn on any of the talent-contest-reality-TV-shows; American Idol, America’s Got Talent, etc. Every one of those shows display the appalling distance between what a person thinks is true about themselves (“I am God’s gift to music!”), and what is actually true about them.
I’d like to say I don’t have that problem, but I can’t! You see, for most of my life I thought I had a pretty cool look going on. I was a wanna-be rock star during the 1980’s (one of the finest times ever for rock fashion!), and I thought I had a very good handle on how to stand out with that rock star edge; that combo of looking good, and looking cool all at the same time. I was sure that when people looked at me in public it was because I looked good, and looked cool. But when I started dating this girl named Aleta (my wife now) she made it very clear that my mullet, ripped pegged jeans, Doc Martin boots, cut-off flannel shirt, and ripped t-shirts did not actually look good or cool. Do you know how certain contestants – the ones with an appalling lack of self-awareness – on these TV talent shows are totally shocked when a judge tells them, “You’re kind of not a big deal”? That was me. I was totally shocked when Aleta informed me that I wasn’t nearly as cool as I thought I was. My whole worldview of myself was completely deconstructed by my girlfriend, and I thought, “That’s not true. She does not know what she’s talking about!”
Have you ever had someone tell you that what you think is working so well isn’t really working? In that moment did you think, “That’s not true! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”? I’m going to explore this experience in the next few posts.