I recently went on a day trip to Dallas for work with my friend, Jim. In an attempt to be vulnerable, I asked him if he would share with me what he sees as one of my strengths and an area where I need to grow.
After pondering the question for a few minutes, he said he believed my curiosity and desire to learn and grow was an area of strength.
As he talked about my strength, I nodded my head in agreement. I can definitely see that in myself. I pride myself on being curious and wanting to continuously learn and grow. Being dedicated to learning and growing is one of my guiding principles so it is good to hear that I am living that out in a way that people can recognize.
He followed up the strength with an area he saw as a weakness, which was my confidence in my self awareness. He clarified why this is a weakness, the reason being because he believes my confidence gets in the way of my curiosity to learn more about what I don’t know that I don’t know.
I could feel my defensiveness building (remember, I asked for this).
The problem here is I agree with him about me being confident in my self awareness. I have always believed I know myself fairly well, especially since dedicating myself to personal transformation over the past few years. But my confidence getting in the way of my curiosity didn’t seem right. The purpose of the question I asked in the first place was to learn more about how other people see me, right?
As the conversation continued I was able to be vulnerable and authentic in ways I had not been all day, maybe in weeks. I was able to get clarity in an area of shame (which I thought I had overcome) in my life that was stopping me from truly pursuing my preferred future. I was able to see how this area of shame had infiltrated parts of my life that I was blind to and was holding me back from so much. This shame was rooted in a belief that I am not worth enough, that I haven’t proven myself.
As I reflect on this conversation I see three main reasons why it was able to gain such clarity into areas I was blind to before.
- Risking: I took the chance of hearing something that would hurt, and asked a question that opened me up to being vulnerable. And, once I heard the answer, I continued to push through, even though my defensiveness was on alert.
- Coaching: I talked with someone who can help me dig deeper. By not working on this by myself I was able to see something I had not been able to previously.
- Authenticity: I am committed to being as authentic as I know how to be and being willing to dig deeper when challenged.
When the conversation came to a close, Jim challenged me to reconsider the way I approach my self awareness. How much more often would I be able to have these kinds of conversations if I approached my self awareness in humility rather than pride?
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “An expert is a man who has stopped thinking because ‘he knows.'” By believing I ‘know’ myself and how I show up, I was not opening myself up to freely thinking about the possibilities of what I do not know. My confidence was (and still is) getting in the way of my curiosity.
What is an area you have let your confidence in ‘knowing’ get in the way of your thinking and curiosity?