I am amazed when I hear stories of people in any walk of life who don’t want to have others observe them and then critique what they have done.
Don’t you want to get better at whatever it is that you do?
Are you so perfect that you don’t need to improve?
“Yes, I am.”
That is absolutely the response that many of them have… in their own heads.
Of course, they would never say that out loud.
But in their own minds, the response is, “I’m good. I don’t need any help. I’ve been doing this a long time. I know what I’m doing better than anyone else. I’ve got this.”
An Arrogant Jerk
What an arrogant way of thinking!
EVERYONE needs help and needs to improve in some way at something.
And MOST people need to improve in A LOT OF WAYS at A LOT OF THINGS!
Who are you to think that you don’t?
You’re an arrogant jerk, that’s who you are.
Now, I totally understand where this mindset comes from.
People don’t like to have their weaknesses discovered, exposed, and pointed out, especially in front of other people.
They don’t like others finding out they are not perfect.
Of course, when one rationally points out that nobody is perfect, they will nod and say, “I know,” but then they will often turn around and go right back to their attitude that says, “But I am not like everyone else.”
But how will they ever grow, improve, and develop to become the best they’re capable of becoming if they don’t look in the mirror and examine those areas where they need help?
All Mirrors are Carnival Mirrors
I often talk about the importance of looking in the mirror to do a self-check and figure out where we need to improve.
But I realize that only looking in the mirror to examine ourselves is not the best course of action for improvement.
That’s because mirrors don’t offer a good reflection of who we really are.
They distort our reality like the mirrors in the Fun House at the carnival.
Actually, that’s not completely true.
Our mirrors in our homes offer an exact reflection of who we are.
But our perception gets in the way of that exact reflection that the mirror is showing us.
Our perception offers us a different view of ourselves than what the mirror is actually showing us.
Here is how I know this to be true.
I am 61-years-old.
When you see me, you see an old guy.
But when I look in the mirror, I see a younger, middle-aged man.
I don’t see the same wrinkles, bald head, and protruding gut that you see.
I see the guy I used to be.
Actually, I see the guy that I wish I used to be or that I wish I was right now.
That is how my perception distorts my reality.
The same holds true for us when considering our own strengths and weaknesses.
We tend to think that we are stronger in certain areas and not in need of improvement in other areas as we really are.
Our perception of our own reality is clouded by our subjective judgment of ourselves based on years of us living with ourselves every day and becoming who we have become.
Enlist the Help of Others
So how do we combat this cloudiness of our judgment?
By having others evaluate us.
We need a fresh, hopefully objective, perspective to point out to us the areas where we are thriving and the areas where we need some help.
We need to be open to critique and, yes, criticism from others.
I know. It’s hard. It’s not easy to hear that you have faults, especially if those faults are in an area that you perceive to actually be a strength of yours.
But it is the only way we will ever grow beyond our own limits and become the best that we can be.
If we never let someone else tell us where we are needing improvement, we will never improve in those areas the way we could, the way we need to develop into our best selves.
Mind-Boggling for Teachers and Coaches
This “I’ve got this figured out—I don’t need any help—Don’t tell me what I need to do to improve” mentality is particularly mind-boggling to me when it is teachers and coaches who are displaying it.
Are you kidding me?!
You, of all people, should be the ones most open to this.
“Why?” you might be asking.
Because you are the very people who do this every day to the young people you serve.
Every day you point out to your students and athletes the areas where they are doing well and the areas where they are struggling and need some help.
You correct their mistakes, offer guidance for how to fix those mistakes, and let them know that if they will do what you are suggesting, they are going to improve and move towards excellence and mastery at whatever it is that you are teaching or coaching them.
How are you any different than them?
Why can’t you be told the same kind of thing from someone else?
Why is it okay for you to balk at the mere mention of some area of weakness that a supervisor or peer (principal, athletic director, fellow teacher/coach) points out to you, but not okay for your students or athletes to do the same thing to you?
How would you like it if your student or athlete filed a grievance with the school district because you had the gall to tell them they needed to improve in a few areas in order to succeed and be the best they could be?
It’s almost laughable when you think of it that way.
Yet, in the schools where I have worked, it has been anything but laughable.
Time and time again, at the schools where I have worked in three different states, I watched mediocre and poor teachers hide behind a union and/or their tenure, handcuffing a school district in a labyrinth of rules designed to help them keep their jobs even when they weren’t performing well and needed guidance to help their students in the best ways possible.
I have watched coaches who treated athletes poorly or didn’t work hard to improve at their craft keep their jobs simply because they happened to win more than they lost or because they had won in the past and the “old school” folks in the community helped prop them up based on their laurels from years gone by.
When these coaches were told they needed to work to improve, learn new concepts for growth both for themselves and their teams, their responses were, “This is how I’ve always done it, and I’ve done just fine before. I don’t need to change.”
Sorry, but you’re wrong.
We all need to change.
We all need to develop, improve, and get better every year.
If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.
The only way to continue to succeed is to continue to grow and develop.
NOBODY is too good to get better.
Time to Change
So if you are truly in this for the right reasons—to help kids become their best in the classroom and in their extracurricular activities—then you need to work to become your best, too.
And you do that by constantly striving to improve, learn, and grow.
And you do those things not by only looking in the mirror.
You do them by listening to others who can help you.
Get over yourself and open up to the evaluation, critique, and criticism from others necessary for your growth.
Then go out and work on those things to become the best you’re capable of becoming.
Your kids need that from you.
And so do you.