How complete are you?

How complete are you?

We each have a view of ourselves. It is dynamic not static. It will be formed from praise and criticism we have received, from achievements and failures we are aware of, from glances in the mirror and from a sense that we all have about ourselves, most of the time. If we are realistic, open to feedback and genuinely in search of improvement, it will help to make us usefully aware. If our view is warped, for whatever reason, it will mislead us.

The dangers of being misled are many. Overconfidence is the road to bankruptcy. Lack of confidence is the worst drag on growing your career and finding happiness. Most people vacillate between the two. Something goes exceptionally well and the world is our oyster. A – perhaps minor – disaster and we are scared that we have lost our way. Shaking with fear about the perceived rocky road ahead is an uncomfortable feeling. We get it when we have been fired or jilted.

You may have found the reference to ‘happiness’ just now surprising. We are all seeking it, of course, but most of our lifetime is devoted to earning, saving, rearing children, looking after the old, preparing for old age ourselves and hoping we have provided enough for those left behind when we go. The pace of life doesn’t usually allow for much contemplation of happiness although if asked we mostly have a reasonable view about whether we are or are not. Happiness is a natural goal but a tricky one to see and an impossible one to pursue.

I didn’t call this Daily Paradox ‘How happy are you?’ because I wanted you to answer a deeper question. If being happy is a goal it is nevertheless a somewhat self-centred goal. Completeness requires more than your happiness – it implies others’ happiness as well. A complete person will contribute to that, too.

Discovering how complete you are is not easy. At 87 I still don’t know how complete I am. I have some characteristics that allow me to be a leader in certain ways – and many that hold me back from being an exceptional one. I have energy over doing things I enjoy and laziness about some I should do but don’t enjoy so much. I face up to some deficiencies but sweep others under the carpet. I have a brilliant coach but she is my wife and so naturally drives me mad!

How may we discover who we are, what we are and how we can possibly become complete? There are myriad personality tests out there, some better than others. I am wary of those that aim to define you numerically, parcel you up and make you a ‘type’. The variety of human possibilities is so great that ‘unique’ is a legitimate description of each of us. Some people share certain characteristics, naturally, but to classify people too closely is to miss the point about a human. We are a work in progress all our lives, one that develops from day to day.

Before coaching and mentoring someone we need to know how complete they are. Can they tell us? Given reasonable intelligence, the right environment and a sympathetic ear, many people can be amazingly honest. They have to trust the person to whom they are revealing their secrets because doing so demands some of the greatest honesty we ever have to face. Asking the questions, a good observer will be able to help release the more difficult answers. Knowing that you are, at least in part, known to another is often more comforting than worrying.

Discovering ourselves should not be a non-stop ego trip. Too many people make it that, without getting a sensible answer. We should have a good look at our Personality, Ability, Skills, Dreams, Ambitions, Qualifications* once a year, set our sights on those things we aim to improve and then get on with it. Clear targets, not too ambitious, will move us more consistently towards ‘complete’ than a lot of wild hopes and aspirations. Most people who succeed do so a step at a time.

Completeness may not be a common criterion for measuring our progress in life. Some may think it even implies a sort of closure, though it is not intended to do so here. We can be complete at any stage of our journey. A satisfactory life cannot hope to be complete all the time but it can expect to achieve a level of completeness at different stages, thus providing real encouragement.

So stop and glance in the mirror once in a while. Ask yourself about the six* criteria for completeness. You will find that that process alone will make you more complete.

And a more complete person is always a more successful person.