Vignette 3: Turning Weaknesses into Strengths
Project 16: Inner-Directed and Outer-Directed People

Project 13: Personal Direction Questionaire

A list of eighteen pairs of statements. Choose the one in each pair closest to my opinion. I believe more strongly that.....

Interesting exercise going through it again after so many years.  Unfortunately, I don't have my original list from 1985.  It would be instructive to see what has changed. But, I think I already know.

Looking at the statements I can see that I have made some changes in my life and, even though I don't always like the result, I do realize that my choices do direct my life path. It is also easy to see, looking at the statements, that many people do not understand the power they hold in their hands - the power of attitude. For example, the choice between these statements:

Other people's attitude toward me is largely dependent on my attitude toward them.

I can't do much about what other people think of me.  After all, I am what I am.

How often we have seen, in the work we do with teams, that there are many people who do not understand the power they have over the way other people perceive them. Their attitude is more in line with statement number two.

In coaching projects, using 360 degree feedback, we often tell people that negative comments in their feedback reports indicate a "marketing problem". It is rare to find a person who truly wants to treat others poorly. Their intentions are good but others don't see intentions, they only see behavior. So, making changes in behavior can change the way others perceive you. For example, "I appreciate the work you do and I want you to succeed" might be my intended communication. But I rarely take the time to give you positive feedback or catch you doing something well so you don't believe I care about you. My busy-ness and fast pace leaves no room for regular positive communication. "I am what I am", I say. The marketing problem here is getting the message out that I care about you and think you do good work. It is amazing how often a change in attitude from statement number two above to statement number one can make all the difference in a relationship.

Looking over this project again I did struggle with two pairs of statements:

Loving another is an inner capacity that can be controlled and developed.

Falling in love is pretty much a matter of chance and circumstance.


My progress in life has been largely as a result of my own effort and abilities. Luck has had little to do with it.

I feel that usually I have had little to do with the things that have happened to me.

In the first pair I found myself agreeing with both. Falling in love, for me, seems to be more chemistry than choice but, once in love, truely loving that other person involves many daily choices which are within my control. Real loving begins after "falling in love".

In the second pair I am influenced by Malcolm Gladwell's work expressed in his book Outliers, as well as my own understanding of community and relationships. In Outliers, Gladwell presents many examples of circumstances having a tremendous influence on the outcome of a person's life. He does not dismiss effort and ability but it is fascinating to consider how the world might be different if The Beatles did not get that gig in Germany which caused them to create original work or if Bill Gates had not lived in a town that just happened to have access to one of the few mainframe computers in the world.

I also believe that there is a synergy between human beings. We do not create success by ourselves. Steve Jobs was a genius in many ways but there would be no Apple Computer without Wozniak, Ive and many others.


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