Some of the things my mother taught me have stuck. One of the gems that I remember clearly from my childhood is an instance when I was critical of a friend’s approach toward another person. My mother pointed out to me that usually, what you notice as a deficit in others is probably a deficit in yourself.
Ouch. I remember at the time reacting to that, confidently stating that I didn’t have the annoying character defect I noticed in my friend. Of course, privately in my own thoughts later, I could clearly see that my mother was right.
It is a principle that I have not been able to forget. I have passed it on to others and have used it for my own self-improvement, letting my occasional 20/20 insight into others’ lives be mirrored back to benefit my own growth. Specifically, as an example, lateness is an irritating habit in other people that I have to constantly monitor in my own life. I can be highly offended when others are late to meet me, but effectively justify my own tardiness if I am not considering this principle of noticing clearly in others what is easily missed in my own life.
At a Life Coaches’ conference once, I heard a name for this life principle. One speaker made reference to the “You spot it, you got it,” principle. It was spoken of several times during the weekend, usually with a bit of healthy humor that made us all realize that a side benefit of coaching others is self-improvement for the coach. It is a good principle to get into your head.
If you have a friend who is a constant complainer and you can’t help but notice, there is a good chance you are a complainer to someone else. If you easily spot the person who demands to be the center of attention, you might have the same tendency. If there is a habit or behavior that you quickly pick up on and react to in others, chances are it is a quality that you, yourself, are demonstrating to others.
If self-improvement is a goal, then any tool we find we should use with abandon.
The “You Spot It, You Got It,” tool is useful. When I am annoyed to find that my keys or pen are “missing,” I usually find all sorts of things that others have left out in the wrong places that are even more annoying to me than my own missing items. I can use that as motivation to have a place for everything and to put everything in its place when I am finished with it. If meandering staff meetings make me dread every time I must meet with my fellow employees, it will motivate me to be prepared and conscious of others’ time when I need to call a meeting.
Pick an annoying habit of someone in your office. I would guess that it is either something that you do yourself, or something that you used to do and had to learn not to do. Does “someone” not return borrowed items quickly enough (or at all)? Honestly consider your own lifetime record for returning borrowed items. If personal phone calls is a button-pusher irritation to you, you might check to see how often you are actually making phone calls that are not directly related to your business. It is often easier to spot the truth in others than it is in ourselves.
The “you spot it, you got it” principle might be a slightly painful tool to use initially, but it can become fun. It is certain to be instructive and to make you more effective if you are willing to have others’ irritating behaviors become mirrors for your own self-improvement efforts. It took me a while when my mother pointed it out to me long ago, but it is a lesson I learned early and for some reason, it has stuck with me. Try using the “you spot it, you got it” principle this week to find an area in your life that can be improved for your own greater success.