"Growth is the only evidence of life."
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman
Mirror, mirror on the wall; who is the fairest of them all?  Imagine standing in front of a two-way mirror seeking an answer to that question.  What you see from your side of the mirror may or may not be what a person standing on the other side sees.

To discover the real you let's use the Johari Window framework as a model for increasing personal awareness.  Picture a window with four panes; each pane is a quadrant to help you understand the process of human interaction.  The four quadrants are as follows: 1) open, 2) blind, 3) hidden, and 4) unknown.  The lines separating the quadrants are flexible so the size of the quadrants can change over time.

The "open" quadrant consists of things you know about yourself as well as what others know about you.  For example, you know your name.  People who live and work with you also know your name.  You know that you are a very positive, upbeat person. Others also see you that way.  Any information about you that is known by both you and others is in this quadrant. 

Information you don't know but others do know is found in the "blind" quadrant.  You may have a piece of spinach stuck on your front teeth.  Until someone tells you about the spinach they have information about you that you don't have.  Perhaps you constantly interrupt when someone is talking.  Others notice but you don't. This is a blind spot for you.

Lurking in the "hidden" quadrant is information you know about yourself and you have chosen not to share it with others.  Not everyone needs to know the inner details of your life.  It is appropriate to be selective with certain information.  However, if you are starting a new business tell everyone you meet! Let the world know you are ready for their business.

The"unknown" quadrant is what no one knows about you, including you!  It's where your unconscious, untapped potential is waiting to be discovered.  Perhaps you have artistic or musical talent you didn't know you had until you started taking music lessons or art classes.  It's your growth and stretch area. 

Discovering the real you means reducing the size of your "blind" quadrant by getting feedback from people you trust about your behaviors to increase your self-awareness.  More of the real you emerges in the "unknown" quadrant as you allow yourself to dream and take risks that stimulate self-growth. 

Receiving feedback enables you to see yourself as others see you. Appropriate self-disclosure opens the door for others to help you achieve your dreams.  Investing in personal and professional continuous learning will lead you closer to your untapped potential. You can only grow as the "open" quadrant grows while the blind, hidden and unknown quadrants shrink. 

When you reach that level of self-awareness and self-actualization you can stand in front of the mirror and say, "Mirror, mirror on the wall I am the fairest of them all!" 

By Carol Gegner, Principal of Executive Coaching & Consulting
Systems at
This week I will be delivering 360 feedback to a client.  In this process, the Johari Window is truly at work.  People see parts of themselves they didn't see (blind) or they hadn't shared with others (hidden) and get to choose new areas to develop or show. 

This week consider how you could obtain insights into your quadrants.

1.     The "blind" quadrant:  Who will you ask for feedback?

2.     The "hidden" quadrant:  Who needs to know more about you?

3.     The "unknown" quadrant:  How can you access your potential? 

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