Why Our Shortcomings are Invisible to Us, but Glaring to Others

As I go about coaching entrepreneurs to look and sound on video and live presentations like the go-to experts in their niches, I constantly get the same reaction when pointing out their shortcomings:

“I can’t believe I didn’t see that!”

That’s because we’re creatures of habit, and not of self-analysis.

It’s all about years of living out our comfortable patterns, based on our long-held assumptions and daily reinforcement of our habits of thinking and behaving.

In fact, we are where we are today in life and business because of the accumulated assumptions we’ve accepted about ourselves…and the behavior habits we’ve adopted to cope with challenges to those assumptions.

We’re too close to those comfy patterns to see how odd they seem to others.


Short example here…over the years in directing audio talent for professional productions, I’ve learned that some people are clueless about how they sound to others.

A life insurance company hired me to produce a video series for their employees on changing relationships with customers from “Adult-Child” to two adults communicating.

The actor hired to deliver the key lines, however, kept saying “adolt” (like a dummy) and could not in any way hear that his pronunciation was wrong…no matter how much I coached him to alter the sound.

The same kind of blinders appears with people who want to influence others, but sound dull and lifeless in their vocalizations.

They read a script aloud, or share their elevator pitch for a podcast, feeling the enthusiasm and energy – unaware that most of that intention stays in their heads and never makes it to their vocal chords and body language muscles.

When the recording is played back, they’re amazed at how dull and lifeless it sounds, as though the recording equipment somehow leaked out all the captured enthusiasm!

“But I felt so much energy and emphasized all the important stuff! Where did it all go?”

It’s a form of psychological disconnect that tends to make many folks blind to how they look and sound to others.

I help them fix the problem by ramping up their energy beyond what they’re normally comfortable with, so they start to calibrate to a feeling of a certain amount of “exaggeration” that produces the compelling result they want to deliver.


Another form of this disconnect: most online entrepreneurs I talk with are amazed to discover their videos and live presentations are infected with as many as two dozen or more off-putting distractions from their important marketing message.

No wonder they’re getting such frustrating lack of sales and clients!

Not until I point out each distraction, and why it chases away their ideal clients, do they awaken to the reality of their uneducated mistakes.

For example, they discover that when they don’t start presentations on time, waiting on stragglers and late-comers, the on-time participants take that as disrespect for their busy schedules. Nobody likes to be dissed.

They learn that when their low camera position is shooting up their noses and showing a lot of ceiling, viewers are uncomfortable and find the experience unpleasant…not the life-changing coach they were looking for!

They also learn that the cluttered background of their home offices (with all of their favorite memorabilia and posters from life) is distracting enough to make viewers lose the thread of the speaker’s message and drop out (disconnect) before the speaker could share a solution to their problems.

They’ve been blindly performing in ways that distract and disconnect, chasing away who knows how many potentially ideal clients, simply because they couldn’t see themselves through the eyes of others.

As Albert Einstein would say (paraphrased a tad), “We can’t get to a higher level of performance with the thinking and behavior that got us where we are now.”


What has to change to allow such a mindset and performance leap is one or more of our long-held, comfortable assumptions.

But the human psyche tenaciously holds onto those assumptions in its effort to protect us from trauma, to keep us thinking and feeling we’re in our safe zone.

So our subconscious literally fights any change, any challenge to old ways, any discomfort at all.

That human commonality is exactly why, for the vast majority of people, “self-improvement” is an oxymoron. We can’t get there with the thinking and habits that got us here.

So we really can’t make the mindset leap alone, because we don’t have the tools of that higher mindset to make sense out of letting go of our precious assumptions and coping behaviors.

It’s still less painful to fall back into the comfort zone than to risk failing at something that scares us.

We don’t, in fact, have in our experience a clear awareness of different and better ways to think and behave. No matter how much information we gather, the decision-making process is still emotional, not logical, and our assumptions anchor our emotions.

Until the pain of continuing old ways is noticeably less than the pain of trying new and scary things, the human subconscious will continue to pull us back to its safe haven.

Until the embarrassment of our limiting assumptions is greater than our fears of looking foolish and stupid, we’re trapped in the easier route of protecting the old ways.

Until we begin to see our limiting behaviors through the eyes of those who have moved on up before us, we don’t have the awareness of tools and options to free ourselves from the grip of our own self-fulfilling prophecies of failure.


The key to unlock the pathways of change – to convince us to allow ourselves to try something new — is firmly in the hands of those individuals who understand the transformative coaching and mentoring process needed to help people expand their comfort zones and self-confidence.

I’m not talking about the pretend coaches who drop 1:1 mentoring quickly for the 1:many money-making systems, who share information and rah-rah motivational experiences but don’t know a thing about changing assumptions.

No, I’m talking about passionate individuals who are committed to the real mentoring process over time that guides us step by step through a greater awareness of choices, like Socrates did.

The coach who knows that building self-confidence is far more important that the constant blah-blah-blah of a talking face with the curse of knowledge on a subject.

The patient guide – facilitator of the change experience – who knows that with each win comes a boost in our expectation for good, and one more limitation set aside in our progress toward the freedom to be who we really are.

Find yourself such a mentor, and such a path, so you can become fully aware of what amazing potential you have within you, just waiting to be set free.