To See Ourselves As Others See Us

My former boss told me that his boss, the General Manager, said "I’m not sure Janis understands how serious our problems are in the plants. She looks so cheerful all the time."

That stung!

My image of the nearly-perfect me was crushed. But this made me realize that I should be getting down to business much more quickly, helping supervisors get quality projects in place. The chit-chat and glad-handing would have to go.

From two centuries earlier, Robert Burns’ poem, "To A Louse" proved instructive to my current embarrassment. The young poet’s sighting, sitting in a church pew, of a louse crawling on the hair of the young woman in the pew in front of him, inspired his poetic lesson that we cannot see "behind us" or see those ugly things that might be crawling on us. Like head lice!

The last verse of Burns’ classic composition (in Old English) reads

"O wad some powr the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!"

The information my boss had shared with me about my business style was the giftie. A gift of GOLD.

Though it stung like a louse biting my ego, and initially made me feel lousy, it enabled me to choose to make visible and real changes in my work habits. Gold.

Now . . . what else are my colleagues noticing . . . that I need to find out?

As Burns’ next line reads (in new English)

"It would from many a blunder free us"

(To see ourselves as others see us).

Hmm, better ask them!