- What weaknesses do you feel you have?
- How have you learned to compensate for them?
- Is there any chance your compensation has been limiting you?
Choose just one weakness, and see if your experience is at all similar to one of my examples; my eyesight.
Only one with hazel eyes among five siblings” only one who needed glasses
Sometime during my grade school years, a very perceptive nun waited with me for my grandmother: She was the one who came to fetch me and my two brothers after school while my parents were still at work. We went to a Catholic school, and the nun was one of my teachers. She waited with us that day to announce to my grandmother, “Your granddaughter may need to be fitted with a pair of glasses.”
She was right, I did. Teachers and parents (or care-giving grandparents) are both with us in
almost equal measure when we are still in grade school, and they notice
different things; it’s a great partnership (when they choose to help
each other and have it. Not a dig, just an observation”)
My grandmother said something like, “Ah, so that has been the cause of it!” Not sure what the “it” was she referred to, and didn’t bother asking: I was equally floored by the nun’s announcement at the time, fully revealed in my presence, but with no prior warning whatsoever. (In the prevailing attitude of the time, I was merely the child.) I am sure I was also focused on glaring at my two younger brothers, also there, and suddenly seized with fits of teasing, giggling delight at my expense.
I wasn’t exactly thrilled about getting my glasses. Not for vanity’s sake (as somewhat of a ‘brainiac’ I kinda liked the studious look), but because they were a real bother. I was the proverbial tomboy growing up, and my glasses would not stay on that well, especially when I wanted to hang upside down by the crooks of my knees in some mango tree, or slide into a steal for second base. Hawai‘i’s humidity compounded the problem, as outdoors my glasses would usually fog up or slip off, becoming another bent or broken pair I was scolded for not taking care of.
So there were many times I still wouldn’t wear them (contact lenses were a much later option). I dutifully wore them in school (you do not disobey nuns, and the glasses did help me greatly), and I loved having them in the car to see farther out the windows, for I was nearsighted (meaning I was myopic and couldn’t see too far), and I was the peacemaker my parents always told to sit in the middle of the back seat. My glasses were just a lousy playtime companion, and I found that my great peripheral vision picked up enough movement close to me in play, with my gamer’s anticipation picking up the rest (younger brothers are good training for this, an extension of that middle-seat thing.) Sometimes I wonder if this old wiring of my system is why I don’t care for video games and movies all that much; everything is in front of me and whatever happens in my peripheral vision isn’t connected to that screen, but separate.
Anyway, as a consequence of all of this, I convinced myself that my doctor’s myopia diagnosis also inferred something quite comforting to me (though of course he probably never said it): Close-up to “animal, mineral or vegetable” I could see just fine, thank you very much.
Uh, wrong. The comfort was nice at the time, but it covered up the cost of my compensation.
Life would eventually conspire to teach me differently (in retrospect I just wished it conspired sooner. Oh well). My dad was a huge influence, always prompting me to “see with your ears too, Rosa,” first with my brothers, eventually with my employees. I learned that the art of asking questions would help me see inside people’s brains, and that all sorts of things bounced around in there!
In middle school I also learned that ‘myopic’ was quite different from ‘microscopic’ and those wondrous machines called microscopes are brilliantly employed by biology teachers to get you past the slimy yuck of frog dissection to the fascinating ooh and ahh of God’s anatomical genius (yes, God’s genius” still in Catholic school, still a child to be taught). Other than with asking great questions (and understanding those you ask also choose their great reveal) people’s brains are not a dissection option for most of us, but there IS an entire world chock full of other things, “animal, mineral or vegetable” we can look inside of.
These days, my microscope of choice is my digital camera +2. By “+2” I mean that it has this wonderful button called the zoom (+1) when I must be careful not to get into some critter’s peripheral vision, or when something is too high for me to reach (no longer a child… still short :). Second, there is the magic of photo editing, where my computer and some slick software will further zoom into my images (+2). The surprises I will see at times are such fun (I had no idea there were so many ants warring with flower-pollinating bees in my garden).
Here I am, decades after getting my first pair of glasses (with contact lenses and bifocals for aging eyes now further adding to the story), newly realizing that I still need to look inside for the brilliance of God’s true genius, and my own value-based, Ho‘ohana thoughts about it, for after all, in my mana‘o, Aloha is the spirit within you.
The photos I have shared here are the work in progress of my new photography hobby; they are the first three photos I uploaded to a new photo set I have on Flickr called “Look Inside.” There are nineteen photos there as of this writing, mostly where “mineral, animal or vegetable” has segued to “floral + 1 critter” but I fully intend to branch out— pun completely intentional!
About “Look Inside” ~A Set of duets and triplets.
This grouping was inspired by my growing fascination with macros: Follow the photostream for the two or three shots in succession to help you look deeper at what may be inside a photo.
“I never realised how much was going on inside our garden flowers until my camera helped me to look.”— Joanna Young at a photo she called “Swirl.”
Other photographers give you group invitation awards in the Flickr sharing that happens, and I have been delighted to receive three in the last month, my first on Flickr. All three used my “+2” learning; one by my camera zoom, two by my computer zoom. That tells me I shouldn’t lull myself into believing I have compensated well enough for my weakness; I need to look inside even more.
So let’s go back to the questions I started with. Focus on just one weakness, and see if you can make a great reveal of opportunity for yourself with looking inside it:
- What is the weakness you feel you have?
- How have you learned to compensate for it?
- Is there any chance your compensation has been limiting you? How?
- What could you do, similar to my new photography hobby, that will bust open some new possibilities for you?
Talking Story Coaching:
This has been an exercise in writing/ slash/ coaching, where I have tried to apply writing coach Joanna Young’s recent series on asking better questions (Series Introduction), done for her Confident Writing blog. I highly recommend you read her series if you have not yet done so: You may find it adds to my coaching for you, just as it proved to be a catalyst for me in writing this for you!
Part I: How To Ask Purposeful Questions
Part II: Creating The Space To Ask Questions
Part III: The Purpose That’s Driving Your Question
Part IV: Asking Questions For A Change
You can also give yourself a HUGE treat and work with Joanna too.
Joanna, to say mahalo in another way, here is what I saw when I looked inside one of the photos you had taken and generously shared with us on Flickr (Joanna’s original here):
from an original photo by Joanna Young