Who did you want to be when you were in grade school? An astronaut, a rock star, a doctor, or a scientist? Since early on in my life I wanted to be a pilot. For some strange reason, I took a break from that dream when I was 11. During much of the fifth grade I wanted to be a movie director. The year was 1981, and walking to and from school I would engage my friends in imagining the possibilities. As a movie director I would give out the assignments. Boys would agree to drive a crew bus, work camera and sound. Girls preferred acting.
This was a short-lived dream. One day, Maxim, my classmate, decided to take my spot. He wanted it so bad that we got in a fist fight. We called it a tie when both of us got bloody noses. We remained friends, but after the fight, he went back to his dream of becoming a policeman, and I went back to wanting to be a pilot.
It was not until 1991 when I had a chance to videotape my own action. I was shocked by the sound of my own voice. I also disliked my own facial expressions and body movements. My confidence hit rock bottom. “Do I really look and sound like that?” was all I could think. Many other video and audio recordings had followed. With time I got used to seeing and hearing myself the way the rest of the world does.
Thanks to the Internet, we now can quickly look up the reason we sound different on the recordings. It is due to the fact that vibrations from the voice box travel to ear canals through the skull as well as through the air. Vibrations that travel through the skull are of lower frequency than the vibrations that travel through air. In total, our voice sounds lower when we listen to ourselves. That’s the voice we are familiar with. When our voice is recorded, the vibrations travel through air only. When played back, our voice sounds higher and somewhat foreign. That’s the voice we dislike.
Similarly, we like what we see in the mirror compared to what we see in photographs or videos. We grow up getting used to all of our asymmetries, spots, and other details as reflected in the mirror. When we see a photo or a video of ourselves, all of these tiny differences are in reverse. It looks unfamiliar to what we expect to see, so we dislike it.
These two examples illustrate how different the self-assessment of any skills may differ from the assessments of the others. Sometimes, we get what we consider a compliment. That would typically come from a family member or a close friend. Sometimes, we don’t like feedback we get. Performance review is a good example. The point is that the inside and outside perspectives hardly ever match!
So What? Here are some possibilities.
- Improve the skills that you think will add value to you personally or professionally. For example, you may consider taking classes in public speaking, singing, acting, or writing. Others may consider joining a gym, take up a cooking or a yoga class. The continuous improvement is one option.
- Come to peace with things you don’t see a value in changing or what is beyond realistic. Accepting your own flaws, and the fact that life is not fair, is also a valid option.
Many find themselves in between the two options. Delaying the action and, at the same time, not accepting themselves for who they are. This may cause job dissatisfaction, health and relationship issues. This is where coaching can help!
Imagine a possibility of writing your own screenplay, becoming the director of your own movie, and enjoying every take you are in.
Our lives are full of outside influences and agendas. They compete for our time, attention, love, and money. When you give in too often, you are running the risk of living a life others want you to live. Fighting back, we get knocked down. If this happens to you, get up, clean up, and get ready for the next take!