A new way of learning: watching yourself

May 6, 2021

In the era of information diet, we overload our brains with content from books and podcasts. The belief is that the knowledge will make us wiser, more worldly and shape our perspectives.

Rarely do we take a pause, look in the mirror and truly observe how we present ourselves.

Professional athletes, performers, speakers all watch recordings of themselves to perfect their craft. They watch replays incessantly as a way to learn what they're doing well and strategize ways to improve.

Looking back, I've made some of my largest shifts in life from watching myself.

As a child, I went to 2 dance schools - I loved to dance. It was my form of self-expression to the world. I learned dance through mimicking my teachers and replicating their movement, facial expressions, and elegance. I was confident their elegance was my elegance. I had no doubt I was Misty Copeland...until I saw a recording of my dance recital.

I was heartbroken. My Misty Copeland-self was more like an inflexible chicken prancing on stage. This inflection point led me to obsessively dance in front of a mirror. There was no reason to dance if I couldn't share the elegance and confidence I felt internally to my audience.

Years later when I was interviewing for my first job, I practiced the list of common questions such as "Tell me about yourself" a trillion times. I had that same confidence; ready like Misty Copeland. One friend suggested I practice in front of a mirror. Given the lessons from earlier in life, I decided to give it a try.

I sat in front of my mirror and started answering. I barely recognized my reflection. I was Robot Misty. There was a huge gap between what I was saying and the emotions I wanted the interviewer to feel. The self-deprecating humor and authenticity were stripped from the script.

More recently as I began to lead teams, my role required delivering speeches that ranged from celebratory to of bad news. During a public speaking training, I had to record myself delivering short speeches. Though I knew nuggets of gold awaited the other side, I was nervous. (Misty didn't show up this time around).

It was only through this recording did I learn that though I felt really passionate about the message, the emotions didn't translate into my facial expressions and body language. My emotions felt muted. I was not as effective as I thought I was in communicating. I carry this lesson through all my interactions today.

Why am I such a big believer of watching myself?

Only through watching myself in recording and mirrors did I learn how I show up in the world. And with these learnings, I'm able to figure out ways to close the gap to how I want to show up. These are feedback that you won't receive and could not have learned from books.

This is why Athena is video-based.

We are focused on empowering people to step into their discomfort and make space for massive transformative growth. By going through this transformation with your community, you'll learn that you're not alone in these experiences and you'll build intimate relationships through supporting each other.