In 1975 I was asked to speak to a group of professionals about staff problems. Because of my talk and an hour plus of questions, people asked if I would visit their office and work with their staff. The idea of traveling to all parts of the country and spending a day in a workshop on relationships and communication interested me. Having spent the previous 27 years working with children, training many employees, and having an excellent reputation for our work, I believed I was qualified to help them with their staff issues. It is what I did, so why not do it for them and be paid?
It began this way and went reasonably well until I realized nothing changed from workshop to workshop. Why? Was it me, my approach, or the material I shared with them? I searched hard and had an inkling that it wasn’t me or what we talked about. It was then that the idea hit me that it might be because the leader was more a witness to what I did and not a participant. Remember, I have been a leader for 27 years and know that I never thought of myself as a leader or what power I had to influence my staff. I was their boss, to be sure, but not in power over them. I always saw my job as a provider and nurturer of my staff, but being or using power in any negative way? Never! At least, I thought so.
The point is that we are not as aware of ourselves and how we come across to others as we believe we do or are. Others, certainly those close to us, see and hear us even if they may not understand us. We have no mirror that shows ourselves to ourselves, so we “think” we know but do not, and others think they do and may not. In either case, actual knowledge of selves requires a vulnerability that makes the difference in every meaningful relationship.
Who I am is not—I only think I know me—You may know my “me?”