Every now and then we get confronted with our own reality. When this happens to me, I find I am privileged to learn a stark truth that I have been wrong about for a really long time.
Most recently this happened during my latest Accountability Academy, 3-day leadership intensive. Day 1 is all about getting to know ourselves at a really deep level that most people don’t get into. At one point, one of the participants said something like “no one knows me as I know myself.” While that isn’t an exact quote, it is close enough. This sentiment got me thinking, is that really true?
While it is certainly true that no one knows our inner thoughts, our doubts, our fears, or even our true ambitions. Is that the same thing as knowing us? In fact, aren’t those things our own personal filters through which we see ourselves? Filters are designed to strain out the unwanted, e.g. minerals from water, metal from oil, particulates from our air, etc. The filter of our internal dialogue serves a similar purpose. It serves for us to be hyper-critical of ourselves so we can strive to be better. Self-improvement is a survival trait. It’s another form of growth. Men typically start losing muscle mass at around 30 years old. This corresponds with a loss of strength & dexterity which makes survival more difficult. To make up for this loss of physicality we need to be smarter and that only comes from being critical of ourselves so we can improve our responses.
Our Stories are Just That…Stories
To an outsider, we seem capable, to ourselves we frequently seem “lucky.” I remember being selected to fly in the F-14 Tomcat when I graduated from Training Squadron 10. I got the slot because the person who would have gone, based on grades alone, was a woman, and at that time, women were not allowed to fly combat aircraft. While I was proud and elated to be selected, my filter said “I got lucky.”
Over the years, while those who didn’t know me held me in some degree of esteem for having flown in a high-performance fighter, I always thought I knew the truth…I was just lucky. The truth is actually somewhere in between. While it is true that had the rules been different, I may not have ended up flying fighters, it is also true that I worked my tail off to place as well as I did.
As I told the attendee of Accountability Academy, it’s a paradox (as all truisms in life are) “No one knows us as well as we know ourselves AND we don’t know ourselves as well as our close friends and family do.”
Be the Leader You Want Others to Be
To be a Locked On Leader, we need to be able to hold the paradox in our hearts. We must know that our self-doubts, our self-thoughts are nothing more than our stories. They are no truer than the stories we tell about others. They are stories from one point of view, from one observer, and therefore incomplete. If we want to continue to grow and transcend, we must be able to hold both our self-perception and the perceptions of others. Remember, our team will only ever do as we do. If we want them to grow, we must as grow as well. If we don’t, we limit ourselves and therefore limit our teams.
If you are interested in experiencing what it is like to attend an Accountability Academy, then join me at MetalCon 2022 at the Indianapolis Convention Center on October 12, 2022. I’ll be conducting a 3-hour, mini-workshop that will touch on many of the concepts covered at Accountability Academy. If you work in construction, it will be worth your while, even if you don’t work with metal directly. I hope to see you there.