Julian Lippi‘s PhD thesis has been a rich source of reflection
for me over the last few days.
Today, I was caused to think about mistakes I’ve made both in my professional
career and in my personal relationships.
I was reading Jenny’s story where she said:
… every professional mistake I’ve ever made in my life … has
been a failure to listen. I cannot think of any time … I’ve got myself into
hot water that couldn’t be traced to a failure to engage with the other person’s
data for long enough, or at a deep enough level. Can’t think of a time where
it wasn’t about listening. (p161)
This would be quite true for me as well, although I would add an important
factor that comes into play for me. It might be the same as what Jenny is speeking
about or it might be something different.
For me, I always relate my mistakes to my failure to engage with myselft.
When I think about it afterwards, I realise that at some level I always knew
what was going on. I knew what was going on, or at least I knew that something
was wrong, but I suppressed that knowledge. More important than supressing
the knowledge, I supressed what my feelings about or sense of what was happening.
When I became uneasy, I would allow my natural optimism to overide the unease
and used it as an excuse to not even allow my conscious mind to be aware of
In this way, my optimism is a defence against the conflict I fear would, and
often would have, arisen if I had acted.
I regard myself, and most people who know me well regard me, as an insightful
person. One colleague (who I would regard as a person with great insight herself)
I worked with on a year long project remarked to me "You see things that others
don’t." In my heart of hearts, I fully believe this to be true. I don’t like
claiming it for myself because it sounds like I am boasting.
However, because of my fear of conflict, I have sometimes been stingy or mean
with my with my insight. I have kept it to myself. In this way, I lose out
on being acknowledged for what I bring to the situation and the other (or others)
miss out on insight about themselves and how they might do things differently.
It has taken me a lot of personal work to know this about myself and to know
when it is happening. It is still my greatest challenge. Each day and before
each interaction, I need to prepare myself to be aware not only of what is
going on around me but, more importantly, to be aware of what I am observing.