When I was growing up, like many young boys and girls I quickly became aware of some of my abilities as much as inabilities.
Capabilities seemed to be something that could create success and also if demonstrated inappropriately could label you as a show off.
What most children wanted was conformity to fit in and to be like the others. However, as time went on it was clearly an advantage to have certain skills others didn’t and to mask or hide from view the things you did not want to have seen by others.
The earliest onion ring layers were being laid down.
Fast forward to adulthood and we start to see the benefits of having a shiny exterior presentation for the world to see. The layers of protective sheeting that we build to ensure we are able to show our best side to the world become part of our signature to the rest of the community.
“Underlying the veils, we will see some of our lesser known traits hiding. Interestingly if you follow the logic of Johari window models for self awareness, there are also other hidden things you don’t know you have.”
“Unusually, some of the very things that have made us successful can be either well harnessed good points or even sometimes cleverly managed inadequacies. An example might be a person who is not always good at adding up. They will develop tricks to check, double check and recheck a set of figures, particularly if there is a reward for correct figures. When they are confronted with other people who can’t add up they might become intolerant, citing that if they have a system of checking why don’t others. The system they refer to is engrained into practice until it becomes what we call, second nature.”
In business, some people are adept at finding out what another person’s weaknesses might be. Take a salesman for quality cars. They know that a car is just a set of wheels and an engine and some new accoutrements of his special vehicle. He may work out that the wife is the person who purchases cars so focuses his attention on understanding what her wants are, then when it is time to close in on the equality part he might use the things he has learnt are her buttons to press to make the sale legitimate.
His art form is to roll the customers personality around to slowly reveal the cracks in the layers or sometimes to exploit the flaws he has found that are hidden from view.
Onion ringing has another aspect which is sometimes part of the problem faced by many people who have over time used their protective layering to shield themselves from others enquiry.
“If we become reliant on layering up to present to the outside world the most capable features, equally we might find it increasingly hard to reveal the hidden concerns or weaknesses that we are struggling to cope with. “
Over the years we have developed a term called competitive isolation to explain that many successful people have learnt to minimise the discussion or advice from others sometimes failing to find someone trustworthy enough to share any of their inner thoughts with. These people prefer by default to take their own counsel on what is important or what is the right decision to make in a certain situation. When we think of the problems we have in our lives most of us are able to work up a list of solutions. These solutions are then interwoven with the problems we have identified sometimes in some form of self-chosen priority and they become the background white noise of daily thinking. Against this backdrop of noise we will feel an escalation in artefact as
our values are used to determine which solution to each problem is weighted up to ensure our actions we take are aligned with our values.
“As time goes through the motions of aging us another reality comes into play and that is an older person may see that the values they thought were important are changing. “
If we are competitively isolated and we are therefore only allowing our counsel to form our opinions it is easy to see that sometimes we can “box at shadows” and not know this until someone close by questions our actions or we recognise to late we might have made a mistake. Too many mistakes and before long we doubt our capability and in creeps the force of anxiety to prevent us from talking to others or discussing our problems.
“Ironically, a person may also see at times that successful problem solving with positive outcomes can be beneficial to our outer layering process as it might cause us to relax and to melt away some protective covers to offer to others like families a more relaxed and amorous personality.”
The same could also be said that if we are then too demonstrative of our belief we have been successful at something we might start to see people around us being reactive to such showing off and, in our country, we would call that the tall poppy syndrome.
Recalibrate competitive isolation from the practice of onion ringing up layers to protect ourselves is standard operating system for success in business. However, it is evident that when we develop a group of trusted confidants we can discuss the weaknesses or negatives of our thinking cycles and the positives as well.
This process of governance, with input from others to hear our problem solving activity in enough detail, will invariably lead us to maintain a true north for our convictions in life.