I’ll never forget it. I was playing a gig and half way through the 3rd set I noticed my zipper was down. How embarrassing! I was rocking out, acting like the coolest thing in the world, and everyone was staring at my underwear, not my bass guitar! I was so embarrassed!
My friend later told me, “I was going to tell you, but I didn’t want to embarrass you.” WHAT?!?! As if NOT telling me saved me any embarrassment! It caused more! I told him, “Next time, TELL ME!”
The fact is you know what you know, you know what you don’t know, but you also don’t know what you don’t know. Let me explain. I know 2+2=4. I also know that I can’t speak German. But there are a number of things that I don’t know even exist. In many areas I’ve been walking around in ignorance, making decisions and not even knowing they were destroying my dreams; just like playing that gig with my fly down. If someone knew something you didn’t know that might help you, wouldn’t you want to know it? Are you sure?
Well, I can tell you that there are things about you that, if someone told you, might hurt you. I remember the day it all came to a head. I was sitting on the couch when Mary Claire walked in. She said, “Daddy, I want to be just like you.” I was flying high then! Who wouldn’t want to be just like me, right? She continued, “I want a belly just like yours.” That line echoed throughout my brain. You see, I was 460 pounds, and my stomach was 69 ½ inches around. That is C-R-A-Z-Y! I got angry. Not with her – with me. I stared at myself in the mirror. I didn’t like the man staring back at me.
I was a mean man; angry at myself and in turn angry at everyone else! I treated my family like dirt, and most of all I was probably the poorest role model my kids could have! Oh God! Mary wanted a belly – JUST LIKE MINE! NOOOOOOOOO!
Well, that did hurt, but I can say that becoming aware of how my anger and obesity was affecting my family, a change became possible – I no longer didn’t know what I didn’t know. Of course I knew I was obese, but I was oblivious to what my obesity was causing in my life and in the lives of those around me. After Mary told me, I could deny it or I could weigh it. I weighed it heavily – and I cried.
She was right. She did want to be just like me – and I didn’t ever want that to happen.
What are you walking around with that you don’t know about? How do you come across to people? Are you rude without even realizing it? Are you running scared and hiding out from your responsibilities? Or is your fly down? One way to find out is to ask. Simply find someone and ask for a little feedback. Ask them how they see you. Ask them what you can work on. Find out what you possibly don’t know.
I sent a mass-text to many of my friends a few years ago. I asked, “Name my greatest strength and my biggest weakness.” What I found was that many of my friends gave me the same feedback – both in strengths and weaknesses. The feedback “impatient” came back the most. Boy is that true! I am so impatient with my family, friends, in almost anything I do! I cut people off mid-sentence. I get angry and aggravated very quickly. I sure need patience. That feedback has helped me in my life. Did it hurt to hear it? Sure! Was it helpful to hear it? YOU BET!
Don’t fret when people give you feedback. Tell them you’ll weigh it carefully, and that you acknowledge their experience of you. Then weigh it and deal with it. Hearing those areas in which we are weak can help us strengthen them and get exactly what we want! And we might not play a gig with our fly open.