Friday, November 15, 2013

Personal Evaluation - Mapping My Perspective on Myself

I would like to share a note about perspective and focus with regards to personal evaluation.  Given the dynamic nature of my experiences, my needs and my areas of expertise, personal evaluation can be a complex topic to tackle.  This complexity is compounded when I counterpoint my evaluation of myself against my evaluation of another individual.  Even more complexity is added when I realized that my evaluations are heavily colored by my perspective, assumptions, and particular focus. 

I find that in my past, the most common method of evaluating myself is detail focused.  In this detailed evaluation, I pick an aspect of myself or another and evaluate against that measurement.  It make sense that this focused evaluation has been so pervasive in my mind.  All through schooling I was taught that focused evaluation was the best method for determining success and achievement. This method has the benefit of precision in evaluative result, but very little context or meaning.

A couple of years ago I came across the metaphorical life experience map shown below. In this map, I plot out my life experience in various categories of experience and expertise.  The resulting landscape which forms is a map of the highs and lows of accumulated knowledge through experience.

In my life, I am experiencing, and in turn, learning every hour of my day.  Much of the time I can choose what I am experiencing and learning.  In this way, I choose which areas of the map get built up, and which remain low.  All things being equal, for every mountain of experience, there is a multitude of areas of my map that necessarily are valleys.  All the time I spent perfecting one skill is at the same time all the areas I was not perfecting my other skills.

We each have an experience map.  And like our fingerprints, each one is totally unique.  What is not unique however, is the time we have spent learning.  Time is something we all burn at the same rate, in turn, any given person of similar age has had a similar quantity of learning experiences.  In a holistic evaluation of time spent learning, we all become very equal.

Where I have gotten into trouble in the past (and still in the present) is in focusing on a particular slice of evaluation while ignoring the whole.  In the table above, when I find myself at evaluation A, I would feel at a peer level with another.  When at B, I would feel valuable and powerful, often coming off as condescending.  When at C, I would feel inadequate, small, or unvalued.  While these evaluations were often useful, the latching of my self worth to these myopic evaluations lead me into very dangerous and self destructive situations where I became ever more disconnected from others.

My charge in life now, is to constantly fall back to a holistic evaluation.  I wish to hold close the humility stemming from the realization that we are indeed each a complex landscape of experiences.

Regardless of evaluations, I am always of value, and I am always enough.

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