Estimated reading time: 2 mins
What would you say if you were recommending yourself to somebody, as a third person?
This question might feel strange, but it is an interesting thought experiment, and we will definitely learn something about ourselves when we attempt to answer it.
So picture yourself as a John Doe – John knows you very well, but isn’t your friend or a member of your family. John is talking to a colleague who has a vacancy that you’re perfect for. So what will John say to his colleague? In John’s shoes, what would you say about yourself?
A third person, without emotional ties to you, will describe you more objectively and without bias. They will describe your strengths and weaknesses – matter of fact. But a third person has only observation, anecdotes and hearsay to make a judgment about us. They see what we want them to see, which isn’t necessarily what lies within our skin. A third person can’t peak into the inner you, to understand your true strengths and weaknesses – they only see what you present to the outside world. So what’s said about you by John Doe?
When we answer this, we’re contrasting our internal view of ourselves against what we perceive to be the external view of ourselves by other people. Is there a stark contrast? Would we be kind about ourselves in some ways, and less generous in others?And are there things about ourselves that a third party would have no clue about whatsoever?
The contrast, if you perceive one, results from inauthentic behavior – where we behave differently between our outward and inner selves. For example, you might present yourself as a bad-ass to other people, but inside you know you’re just a pussy-cat. Everybody has a contrast, because everybody behaves differently outwardly than they do in their heads.
To be recommended for our true strengths, we must behave more authentically
We create ‘personas’ – our outwardly presented selves – for a reason; to protect ourselves from others seeing what we consider to be our ‘ugly truth’.
To be recommended by others as we would recommend ourselves, we must present to other people much more of our true self. We must behave more authentically.
This is no easy thing. Behaving more authentically is a choice, although it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. It involves a gradual transition at a pace you can cope with. Polly Campbell at Gaiam Life writes in her post 5 Ways to Live an Authentic Life:
Authenticity is about being genuine and real, says Mike Robbins, a corporate trainer and the author of Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken. It allows us to connect deeply with others because it requires us to be transparent and vulnerable.
So ask yourself this: if you behaved more authentically, how would you recommend YOU then?