I was with a small group last week, and we were speaking about gifts – what was it we embodied and could bring into the world? So many of the responses sounded like this:
“I am a loving person, but not really.”
“I am inclusive and welcoming, but not always.”
“I am forgiving, but not that forgiving.”
In light of these honest and heartfelt ‘confessions’, I reconsidered what I was about to share, then said it anyway.
“Lately, I have had wisdom to share with a friend of mine, who is looking for an outside perspective. Since I am not ‘in the weeds’ with him, I am able to see things, and create ideas, that he is not.”
Of course, I am not wise in ALL situations. Nor am I always objective. Nor did I feel any less for that. For, in fact, I am not feeling less for being human. However, this doesn’t mean that I am not aware of my inconsistencies, or desirous of reducing them. But, how do I find that balance?
One of the most powerful correctives for me is the 12-step process. Being “right-sized” about one’s strengths and failings is a hallmark of the introspection and dialogue in this context. Being honest and accountable to others about my own inventory has been key.
The same is true for spiritual direction. Brother Ron, the open and loving witness to my own spiritual growth and struggles, has been instrumental in helping me “right-size” myself. So has the companionship of a few dear soul friends.
And, what is right-sized? It’s what I imagine “humility” means…an accurate sense of who I am and my place in the world. Not puffed up and overweening but neither totally bereft of the higher gifts.
In the world of business consulting, Zenger/Folkman has published an interesting study:
It maintains that our own perceptions of ourselves are far less accurate than others’ perceptions of us. They say:
“Feedback is essential for development because everyone has blind spots. There are certain characteristics most individuals just don’t see. Sometimes these characteristics are weaknesses. Many people may see and know about them, but don’t think they make much difference. In fact, they don’t even realize that people notice them.
Often, there are also strengths—things that they do incredibly well—but they just don’t realize the leverage and power they possess. Feedback is the most instructive tool to help individuals understand others’ perceptions of themselves— and there is significant power in that process.”
Now, the Zenger/Folkman group would recommend the 360 Review process in the workplace, to get feedback from your boss and your peers, about your performance.
Nonetheless, we can all do this in our own circles.
Because, frankly, if we are unable to see our gifts and bring them forward, then why are we here? At worst, we shrug it all off. Or we ‘leave it to Jesus.’ Who, by the way, was not here to say that he was the only one who could heal, speak truth and transform lives. He was here to show us the way by which WE could do the same. “The Kingdom of God is within you”, he declared. And, for more on this, I recommend “The Wisdom Jesus” by Cynthia Bourgeault, and “Putting on the Mind of Christ” by Jim Marion.
The next time you wonder about how loving you are; or, how much wisdom you possess; or, in general, what you can bring to the world…ask someone you trust for their opinion.
And, while you’re at it, ask them to help you be accountable for continuing to bring those gifts forward, and for their assistance when you feel less able to do so.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.