How do you see yourself?  As human beings, we tend to have a view of ourselves that is probably different than others see us.  As Shakespeare said, “Oh, would some Power give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us!” It is said that perception is reality, so the way others perceive us is reality – or at least the reality that we need to accept.

Our self-reality is the picture we have of ourselves in our head.  It is summed up in a great little saying, “You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”  We are in our own bubble, living in our head – inside the jar – so we can’t see ourselves as others do.

So what? We are living our life, trying to be the best we can be.  If others can’t see it, is that our problem?  Yes, it is.  Because other’s perceptions of us affect every area of our life – from our career to family to friends.  There is another saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”  When we are too close to a situation we lose perspective.  Other’s perception is reality because they can read the label on our jar.

At the beginning of our coaching engagement, I take my client through some self assessments, so that they can begin to see themselves as others see them.  The most eye-opening is a 360 degree assessment, with feedback from 10 to 15 of the client’s peers, supervisors, and staff.  This is where there are often surprises for the client.  The feedback about the client’s perceived strengths and weaknesses from this group  is usually consistent.  Those co-workers all read me the label they see on the client’s jar – and they all pretty much read it the same way.  When this information is shared with the client, he/she is often surprised.  They don’t recognize these perceived weaknesses or strengths as others do.  This gap in the way they see themselves versus the way others see them is a topic we then can explore in the coaching sessions.

How can we make sure we are reading our own jar labels? One way is to work on our own emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is a term coined in 1995 in a book by psychologist Daniel Goleman.  It’s defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”  I think of emotional intelligence as what our parents called being mature – understanding and exercising self control in our own emotions and in our relationships with others.

To succeed in our relationships, we can’t blindly disregard how we come across.  We need to make efforts to see how we are viewed and make adjustments when there is a gap with how we want to be seen.

So, get out of your bubble, away from that forest and take a look at your jar label.

Shakespeare will approve.

Lee Ann Pond is the founder of Engaging Leadership, which provides training and support for business leaders, with a focus on employee engagement.  She has an MBA, 15 years “C” suite experience in finance and HR, and is a certified executive coach.


“Engaging Leadership has been instrumental in my professional growth as a leader. The coaching sessions with Lee Ann helped me recognize my knowledge and skill-set, but most importantly become confident. Thanks to Engaging Leadership, I am finally functioning as the leader I have always desired to be.”

— Non-Profit HR Director

Leadership Classes

     “Leadership Skills for Engaging Your Employees” was a great course! I learned things that will change the way I supervise. I am already better at giving feedback and delegating. The course was very engaging and I enjoyed the interactive part and learning from the fellow students.”

— Service Industry Front Line Supervisor


“Lee Ann Pond’s presentation and workshop skills are extremely effective. She engaged her audience with examples of her own personal experience as a senior leader and welcomed audience participation throughout the session. This kept the audience intrigued and encouraged a number of attendees to stay following the conclusion for some one-on-one guidance.”

— Attendee at national conference

Leadership Training

We offer interactive motivating workshops, online leadership courses, and small groups of talented managers together through our Engaging Leadership Academy.

Employee Engagement

We train management & supervisory staff on how to best engage their teams to achieve more and provide surveys that measure your employee engagement.

Executive Coaching

We provide customized coaching and supply management professionals tools for pre-hire screening, employment selection, on-boarding, managing and team leadership.

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