A few years ago while working as a book editor at my former job, I had a very humbling experience in learning about my shortcomings. Behind the scenes in the book world, it typically takes about nine months for a book to go from being a pile of paper to becoming an actual product that people can buy and read. Nine months is a long time to get attached to one project, and after awhile, I really started treating my books like my babies. I became very cautious about who got near my “precious womb of creativity” and dared to disrupt their development.
During the process of developing our books, we made time for a fellow editor to provide a critique of our books to ensure that we were creating the best possible product. For the most part, I really liked this process because I liked to hear from my fellow editors just how great my book project really was and what a great job I had done with it up to that point. So as usual, I released one of my babies from my cubicle and allowed one of my fellow editors to begin the critiquing process. She took a few extra days to finish her critique, and I began thinking, “When she gives me my book back, I am REALLY going to find out what an AWESOME editor I am.” Boy, did I set myself up for the shock of a lifetime. When my baby came back to me, it was covered with a sea of Post-Its notes and editing marks up the ying yang. To say that I was HOT was an understatement. How dare my co-worker tear down this project that I had already worked on for six months! Didn’t she understand how brilliant it already was? I didn’t need her telling me how to fix my baby just before I was going to release it to the world.
During this time in my life, I was taking several self-development classes to discover more about me and my personal power. During one of my classes, my course leader said, “We don’t become more powerful by learning from what we already know. We grow from learning what we DON’T know.” Oh…my…God! Here I was PISSED at my co-worker for pointing out several errors in my book, and I was this close to missing the blessing that she was providing for me – the opportunity to learn how great I was NOT so that I could create a better book and become a better book editor. When she first gave the book back to me, I just looked at that Post-It covered stack of paper with anger and disgust. After I got this revelation, I couldn’t wait to get back to my desk, read EVERY Post-It, and soak up all the lessons that she gave to me.
If you are like me, I’m sure you love to hear other people tell you how wonderful, beautiful, amazing, and fantastic you are. We can all spend days basking in the glow of how terrific we really think we are. But God forbid if anyone comes up to us and tells us how great we are NOT. We will cause heaven and earth to split wide open if anyone dares to tell us that we are really nasty, selfish, inconsiderable, and evil. Our ego can’t handle that kind of truth. Even though it hurts like hell to hear, my friends, I come to tell you that our faults and shortcomings are the greatest things that could ever happen to us. And when someone has the courage to tell you how great you are NOT, push your ego aside and be open to the gift they are giving you. When you allow the gift of your un-greatness to come into your life, your world will never be the same.
As I was thinking about this blog post yesterday, I began singing of one of my favorite hymns “How Great Thou Art.” I almost threw myself into hysterical, laughing fit when I replaced the words of that song to “How Great You’re NOT.” The more I laughed, the more I realized that when we go through life and think we have it all together, we miss the opportunity to learn how to be even better than we were before. Even though my ego is not looking forward to it, I can’t wait to get another present.
Friends, I hope you get some unexpected gifts today.