I’m working to shove self-consciousness into an ever-shrinking corner of my life. At the moment, it’s living in an AirBnB room in the Willits’ garage. Bathroom’s in the main house; not a fun place to be when it snows. Self-awareness, on the other hand, knocks on my front door at the oddest times. I’m always glad to see it, but usually surprised, too.
“Apparently,” I said to the VA candidate during our Zoom interview, “I do more than the average person.” She looked down and tried to suppress a laugh. Gee, I found myself thinking, maybe I really do.
Running two writing courses simultaneously while planning two others—and an end-of-year retreat; feeding the last five pieces of content into a 52-week curriculum; working with my corporate writing clients.
Oh, right—and writing for at least 15 minutes every day. (Today’s day 555!) Oops—yep, and keeping in touch with the folks on my mailing list four or five times a quarter. While always looking for ways to find more folks to keep in touch with.
Surely someone like Sir Richard Branson does all this before breakfast. While kite-surfing around his island.
Well, okay. I’m not going to stop doing what I do, but I will give myself credit for being more active than the average bear. That’s self-awareness.
Self-awareness requires company
Self-awareness doesn’t develop in isolation. You need people around you (or streaming to you over your WiFi) to hear your stories and mirror them back to you.
I went out to dinner with a randomly selected group at a retreat I attended last month. One of the icebreaker questions was something about “the most fun business event you’d ever attended.” I knew my story was cool—maybe I’ll write about it one of these days—but in telling it and seeing my dinner companions react, I realized for the first time that there was some “extraordinary” mixed in with the cool. I saw that it was a story about me as much as it was about the actual events. That’s self-awareness.
I can pick out a great story at 500 yards. With one arm tied behind my back. If it’s a story about someone else. Stories about me? I mean, I have a collection of client success stories, of course. But stories that demonstrate my own successes? The ways in which I shine? Oh hell no. I don’t tell those stories.
The event I talked about at dinner happened over 25 years ago; I think I’ve told it maybe once since then. And never to people I’d just met.
What’s your story?
That’s why I’ve created my end-of-year retreat, Write & Shine. We’ll spend a lot of time looking for those kinds of stories in ourselves. Everyone has them. And we’ll also look at telling other stories—because you can’t talk about yourself all the time. We don’t want self-awareness to morph into self-involvement, after all.
What stories are you not telling that you should be? Maybe it’s time to shine. And see your light reflected back through other people’s eyes.