A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.
It is taken as fact that people have a skewed sense of themselves. They judge others based on actions and themselves based on intentions. They inflate their senses of self. (Those that have the least disparity between their views of self and the world’s view of themselves are generally clinically depressed.)
But it also seems reasonable that people who don’t evaluate themselves and who don’t have an accurate sense of themselves won’t achieve their best selves. That without introspection to know strengths and weaknesses, without a sense of values, a person cannot improve with any methodical nature. Yes, people change over time. And yes, that change could happen to be in the direction considered improvement. But without the knowledge of where the time and energy are best put towards self-improvement, without the knowledge of what can be improved and what is already at peak, any changes made are guesses, educated ones at best.
I know I’m not perfect. That is a fairly easy statement to make. No one is perfect. I accept that. And I accept that there are things to work on. The question is what.
I’ve toyed with this notion for some time. Back in college, at a time when Comedy Central seemed to be hosting roasts fairly regularly, the idea of getting together a roast for our group of friends seemed an interesting one. We weren’t professional comedians, but we thought of ourselves as funny, witty, clever, creative, and snarky. There is a fine line to walk in a roast, between being poignant and funny on one side and being hurtful and cruel on the other. It is a very fine line indeed.
I proposed that we make an event of it. My argument being the above, combined with one of the rules that our group has always operated under: If it is funny, you can’t be mad. I have on numerous occasions been burned by a friend but took no offense because it was funny. It encourages open exchange and humor over playing with kid gloves.
One of the core members vehemently opposed the idea, insisting that it was going to go poorly. Whether it was because he didn’t think I wanted to know what people secretly thought of me, whether he didn’t want to know what the group thought of him, or whether he just expected it to cross the line I don’t know. But the end result of the roast proposition was that it didn’t happen.
Cut to my time in the working world. We had a 360 degree review at one point. And the feedback I got was interesting, useful in some ways and unhelpful in others since the test was administered haphazardly.
In the final months of my time with the company I actively sought out feedback from my peers and colleagues. What did I do well? What did I need to work on? Did they respect me? Did they like me? Would they ever want to work with me again?
It was direct conversation, and there is only so much you can do to encourage a person to open up on possibly tough topics like criticism. Some of my co-workers said that they liked me and I did everything well, which gave me nothing. But a few of them actually opened up to me, telling me things I had done or said that put a shadow over the things I had accomplished and the ways I had worked well with them. It was phenomenally helpful to hear, if hard, and it gave me things to strive for. These are still things I remember and areas that I work on. Self-improvement isn’t easy.
And now I find myself again, a few years out from that, knowing that I want to improve. Knowing that I can improve. But not knowing where, and what will get me the most distance for my energy.
And so I am considering the options. One on one asking people who know me? Soliciting free responses over email? Sending out a personal 360 degree review survey to family, friends, and former co-workers (this is offered on Selfstir.com and I am very seriously considering)?
Introspection can only get me so far. I can’t see myself through the eyes of others without them letting me.
I am open to feedback, negative and positive. Knowing my strengths will help me to stand strong on those and emphasize them, use them. Knowing my weaknesses will allow me to decide what to work on, how to work on it, and to step up.
If you have feedback for me, I would appreciate it. I’d prefer an email or a personal conversation over a comment on the blog, but do however you see fit. It is a favor I am asking in this, and I appreciate the time and energy put into a response. Know that I will not take offense, and I will work to understand your point.
The path to a better self goes on as long as you’re alive. I’m just trying to keep walking forward.