“You can't see the label of the jar you're in.” The first time I deeply understood this was during a retreat when one of my mentors introduced the concept of “Johari's Window.” Johari's window is a graphic representation of how we operate in the world in general, and opens up a conversation about our BLIND SPOTS in particular (check out my drawing, below).
There are 4 quadrants. The first quadrant, in the upper left, represents what is known to the self AND known to others. This is the “ARENA” of information; when we're operating here, everyone has information to get stuff done and make progress. Boom, easy breezy!
The bottom left quadrant (which says number 3 here, and yes, I'm addressing 2nd) represents what is known to the self and NOT known to others. As long as this part of us remains hidden to others, it is the “MASK” we wear. We often wear masks to hide the parts of ourselves we don’t like, that we fear might alienate, disappoint or separate us from others. This area represents an opportunity for growth, because when it is shared, and everyone has the same information, it becomes part of the “ARENA” we can play with and work with.
In the upper right (Quadrant 2), we have what is unknown to us and known to those around us. This area represents our BLIND SPOTS, and is another significant growth opportunity IF we're willing to solicit feedback and be receptive, which often requires tremendous vulnerability and openness.
Finally, the bottom right quadrant (AKA #4) represents what is unknown to us AND unknown to others. This is the area of UNKNOWN POTENTIAL and requires BOTH removing our masks AND being willing to receive feedback from others. This is often the hardest work of all.
As we look to grow and expand in this way — through sharing more of ourselves with others, and being willing to receive honest reflections from others, we must choose wisely the people we will be entering these conversations with. I recommend choosing people who you know align with your vision and values, and establishing agreement up front that this kind of sharing is desired and welcome. All too often I've tried sharing feedback with someone who wasn't open or receptive, I'll bet you have too. That's no fun. Also, give yourself and others time to integrate feedback, and be grateful and receptive, no matter what the feedback is.
Without mirrors, we can't see ourselves. Let others be your mirrors.