Man In The Mirror

A couple weeks ago I read a book about leadership. (No, it’s not the one in the picture.) It included some on-line content that involved a survey. The idea was to take the survey and evaluate your ‘style’ and approach to leadership, highlight your strengths and your weaknesses. Part two of the big idea was to get people who work with you to also take the survey and have them answer the same questions to give their take on their perception of my ‘style’, approach and status of my leadership.

After a few days I could download a pdf that showed me how I scored myself and on the other side of the page, how those who know me and work with me and live with me, scored me.

I expected to see a few numbers slightly different but what I ended up with was a radically different score. “Score” is actually not the right word, more of a mark on a scale of 1 to 40 to show whether a particular trait was in little evidence or in abundant evidence. The results revealed, among other things, that the way I see myself, the way I perceive my interactions and approach are drastically different than the way I’m perceived by those around me. Where I think of myself as “innovative”, “disturbing” even sometimes a little “radical” the majority of respondents see me more as a “nurturer”, “warm hug on a cold day”, and even cardigan sweater kind of safe.

This freaks me out. Not that I don’t like nurturers or even being perceived as one. What freaks me out is the apparently incredible gap between the way I see myself and the way I’m experienced by others. I’m Walter Mitty when it comes to leadership. I’ve always been a little Walter but usually just after seeing a movie or finishing a book and not about the day to day way I see myself in the work that I do.

It reminds me of the near move that my family made in my teen years. I saw relocating to a new town and a new school as a potential means for breaking out of the role I’d been given to play at my old school with my old friends, and be the person I felt I was on the inside.

I’ve been under the impression that “what you see is what you get” with me but now I’m not even sure about what I or others actually see. What does it mean to be functioning and working hard at what you do, seeing yourself in a particular way and then finding out that you’re the only person who thinks that that is who you are?


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Church, denial, Friends, Leadership, Meaning, reality, Reflective. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Man In The Mirror

  1. BrianD says:

    Doesn’t surprise me at all that you see yourself one way and most of the people around you see you some other way. That was most likely the reason for the exercise from the book. The traits we value most are the traits we tend to see in ourselves, whether we have a heaping measure of miniscul measure of that trait. Your friends see you for who you are and what you do. They value who you are, and don’t care how you see yourself. They either like you or they don’t. Don’t try to change anything. What you do is working for you.

    For what it’s worth, I would have rated you a little more like you see yourself. Probably because when we don’t hang out with someone everyday, we tend to project the image we want others to see.

  2. brianmpei says:

    Interesting thoughts BrianD. I wonder how much of that I’m doing to everyone around me.

  3. sweetlybroken says:

    Oddly people see me entirely differently from the way I see myself! The way people see you is the way they need/want to see you. You are so many different ways with so many different people, that all speak to your flexibility and ability to meet people where they are at not where you are. You can’t cram a round peg into a square hole no matter how hard to squish yourself.

  4. brianmpei says:

    Hi Sweetly! Great to hear you’re still among the living!

    My fear is this – Am I “flexible” or am I fake?

  5. sweetlybroken says:

    I have returned to the land of the “wired”.
    While you’ve been “functioning and working hard at what you do” you’ve tried to place yourself in box that is too small based on dimensions defined by only you.
    I came smack against this issue last year and had the exact same question…..which is the “real” me. Is it the person others percieve or is it how I percieve myself. Truth be told, I don’t have an answer, what I have is an assurance that while I can be a different person to different people the real me lies not in my reflection in a mirror but rather in the heart of the person in front of me.
    Define yourself not by your reflection in a mirror but rather by your reflection in others and the “real” you will prove to be, real flexible.
    “Fake” comes from trying to be someone that you are not.

  6. brianmpei says:

    Thanks Sweetly. I don’t know how to be anything but what I am. I tried to be someone else but turns out I’m lousy at it. Still though, there’s this gap I don’t get between how I see me and how I am seen. For instance, I don’t see me as 44 and fat. I’m young, incredibly thin and athletic. So it makes me confused when running to the top of the parking garage leaves me near a heart attack. Good to be in touch with reality.

  7. BrianD says:

    You are definately not fake. There are many different facets to all of us that we sometimes show what you want to show, and sometimes what you need to show. Flexibility is a good word, but we act different in different circumstances. What drives us is our core beliefs and values. Those beliefs and values show themselves differently depending on who we are around and what the situation calls for but will always be true to our core values. One situation may call for us to be incredibly funny but being funny would be inappropriate in another situation. If we remain true to our core principles, we are in good shape. If we don’t, then we have the identity crisis.

  8. brianmpei says:

    Thanks BrianD, the inside definitely is what count since it produces the outside. I hear that. Still working through this and I appreciate your thoughts!

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