Evaluations of a Dodo

A critical skill for the newly re-booted is the ability to evaluate oneself. From the first minute we enter this life, we are, each of us, brought up in a world where our performance is measured against that of our peers: newborns are assessed according to percentage weight and height; school children measured against the statistical performance of their peers; teens and young adults are judged by their physique, social maturity, and athletic prowess. It’s all set out in administrators’ handbooks.

Arriving at adulthood, of course, these gauges are replaced with a far more nebulous tally since individuals scatter in such disparate directions. But, still, a scorecard remains a scorecard. We each have one, but the trick is to use our own evaluation scheme and not somebody else’s.

Easier said than done.

It’s easier said than done because we are all conditioned to being judged by the outside world. It’s how we were reared as children and it remains the strongest social force in existence today. In this historical context, it makes sense that so many of us continue to use our peers for mirrors. But we are not schoolchildren. And this method no longer is useful. We need to coach and cajole ourselves to replace this worn out model to one where we utilize our own criteria and nobody else’s. In other words, we become a solely self-evaluative mechanism.

I’ll give you an example. Recently, a friend ran into a person from her past in a children’s toy store. It had been several years since she had seen Person X and as they were chatting and catching up, the inevitable question as to what my friend was currently doing arose. Person X found the answer to be less than impressive and replied, “Wow, aren’t you bored?” This response surprised and upset my friend, who then found herself obsessing about it for several hours, despite recognizing the fact that X’s response was that of a total tin-eared blockhead.

But we all do this. We each can get thrown off our game when someone we like or respect or knew in some capacity hands down a pronouncement of our performance. We want others to be pleased and impressed with us. We want their admiration. All too often, we make choices, not stemming from what we know is best for us, but based on the hope that others will nod their head, approving of our choices. And it is this desire that gets in our way.

The only person’s evaluation of your performance that counts is your own! You are a grown adult, and even if you are confused about certain things, you still know, deep down, what feels “right” for you versus making a decision based on other considerations; alas, fear drives too much of this inner dialogue. There are manifold examples of people choosing Path B because there won’t be “talk” in the same way as if they went with Option A. This can range from your choice of vocation to your marital status to what car you drive to the way you spend your free time.

Please don’t misconstrue my remarks to mean that “follow your bliss” is the only sanctioned course, because it isn’t. It can’t be. We have too many real-time responsibilities that must be met, but my point is that whatever decisions you make need to be made from a place of confidence in yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks because, I guarantee you, there will be an entire potpourri of opinions out there.

Going back to my friend who knows her life isn’t “boring” despite Dodo-head’s comment. What I’ve laid out in terms of judging ourselves is easier said than done. I struggle with this issue on a daily basis, which is when I remind myself that so much of what I’m doing cannot be measured. There are no metrics that I can point to, except to check in with myself and ask, “Have you acted with integrity today? Did you move the ball forward in the least little bit?” If I can answer these two questions with a yes, it’s a day well spent.

The dodo is an extinct, flightless bird whose behavior got him permanently grounded.

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