You Can Better Yourself By Examining What You Don't Like About Your Peers

Sometimes the behavior of people who aggravate and annoy you can unconsciously affect the ways you behave yourself. Introspection and self-awareness exercises can help get the monkey off your back and allow you to improve your decision making. 

In her recent post at Quartz, design entrepreneur Lauren Bacon shares an anecdote about a hated boss whose influence haunted her years after she had quit and started her own business. It was only some time later, after a process of introspection, that Bacon realized many of the decisions she had made in guiding her company were really subconscious attempts to subvert this ghost from her past:


"Where he had been relentlessly self-promotional to the point of arrogance, I resisted marketing. Where he had bought into rapid, exponential growth as the only path to business success, I refused to hire help even though I was working myself to the bone."

Bacon realized that her fervent attempts to avoid becoming anything like "that guy" had prevented her from making bold choices. She compares it to the fear rock bands have of "selling out," which leads her to point out that fear is the operative word. We fear what we don't like in others because we can't stand the thought of exhibiting those behaviors ourselves:

"When we succumb to disdain, we transform our worst fears about ourselves into a kind of reverse-affirmation levied at someone else. If he’s an arrogant windbag, then my self-image as a modest and thoughtful person is reaffirmed, while my terror of self-promotion or provoking conflict can safely be tucked away into a corner labeled 'bad' and 'not me.' 

 On the other hand, if I have a habit of judging people as arrogant windbags, it might behoove me to take a look in the mirror and ask myself, 'Where in my life could I stand to assert myself more strongly?' Or, 'Where am I staying silent and abdicating my authority?'

Bacon suggests an exercise. Think of someone who really gets your goat and then ask yourself the following questions:

1. How do I feel about this person, in general?

2. What specifically about them is so triggering? (Spend a good amount of time here, dumping it all out.)

3. What are they modeling for me, in a “how not to be” way?

4. How does my reaction relate to my own values?

Once you've set that foundation, you can use your introspections to identify your own actions and decisions to be improved. Think of the people you judge for behaviors you're embarrassed about exhibiting. Determine what your personal goals are and assess whether your latent or apparent fears have held you back.

Remember: knowing is half the battle. Identifying yourself, your fears and capabilities, will lead to a sustained sense of self-awareness, which is the key to longer-lasting success.

Take a look at Bacon's full article at Quartz. It's well worth the read.

Photo credit: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Lateral thinking: How to workshop innovative ideas

Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.

Videos
  • As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
  • The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
  • How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

Straight millennials are becoming less accepting of LGBTQ people

The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
  • The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
  • Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
Keep reading Show less