Why do we focus on incompetencies?
Guest Blog by Sarah Scarratt
We have quite a big garden, takes about 2 hours to mow with a sit-on mower, so it’s always a good opportunity to take some time to ponder and reflect on life. Most recently, I was thinking about a psychotherapist I know and how I feel so incompetent around her. She’s tall, much taller than me, and always seems so calm and capable. “Bet she can’t use a mower though”, I thought to myself. And I realised that I’ve actually been using a sit-on mower for 15 years. I wondered how many other colleagues can use a sit-on mower as capably as I can? It’s not a skill I tend to recognise as being important. So then I got to wondering about other skills I have for which I don’t give myself credit. When I think about it, I’ve been running my own business for 15 years and prior to that, ran a small department within a much larger company so I’ve effectively been working in Management and HR for over 21 years. I’ve been teaching foreign languages on and off since my uni days … teaching turned into training and more recently into coaching, which I guess links with an interest in psychology, child development and mental health which also began during my time at university and continues to this day. I’ve been organising events and projects for over 27 years and I’ve got over 38 years’ experience of NFI (not fitting-in… it’s an acronym I just made up, I rather like it). 38 years of living in a foreign country, being the odd one out, not quite belonging. It made me wonder what I could do with all this knowledge. I haven’t got an answer yet. But just thinking it out loud makes me feel better about myself and accept that I have got some great qualities. I wonder why I tend to forget about them and focus instead on all the things I can’t do, my inadequacies and blunderings… I often recall these lines by Marianne Williamson:-
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 [this world]. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s 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 [the world] 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’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I wonder what experience my staff have that we’re simply not aware of, because it doesn’t fit in to their current job profiles. How we could harness all their diversity to the benefit of our company, and to their own self-esteem. Wouldn’t it be great if we could indeed focus on all the things we can do, the wisdom we share on a project, the calm we spread in a crisis, the energy we bring to a party … instead of concentrating on our weaknesses or inadequacies …
I’m not thinking of jacking it all in and running off to be a groundskeeper on a golf course in Atlanta… But from today, I am going to remind myself to shine a light on all the fabulous things I do, here and now, changing the focus and looking for the good, in every little thing I have. Like my expertly mown garden, for example, and while some H&S official might question the suitability of my footwear, I’m thinking hey, haven’t I got nice feet?!