My Job is Training Others

I love listening to your podcast and I have watched all your Scrolling through Scripture classes. Thank you for taking the time to produce them. They are always a highlight of my day.

I am the director of training for my company. I was just put into this position a few weeks ago. I have noticed an interesting trend. It seems that most people are blind to their major weaknesses. Why is that and how can one accurately assess the truth of others and then our own situation?

J.D.

Dear J.D.

Have you ever listened to a recording of yourself speaking? Don’t you react with a “That’s not what I really sound like!” Many of us have had that experience and it reflects a reality. When we speak, the sound travels through the bone of our inner ear. When we hear ourselves on tape, the sound is traveling through air. Other people are hearing a truer sound of our voice than we do.

We human beings are not very good at analyzing ourselves. “Do not go astray after your heart and after your eyes” warns the Bible (Numbers 15:39). The heart and eyes refer to our emotions and it is our emotions that so easily blind us to our weaknesses and other important areas of reality. This is one of the reasons that ancient Jewish wisdom advises each of us to have a mentor as well as a friend. We need to bounce our ideas off someone we look up to, as well as off someone who is a peer. Both of them are likely to have greater insight into us than we have into ourselves.

As director of training, your job is not to read workplace manuals aloud to the workers. It is precisely to help them do their best work by recognizing their areas of strength and coaching them to improve in weak areas. As someone observing dispassionately, you will undoubtedly see things that the individual will not pick up on himself. You can’t “assess the truth” of the individual, nor should you. You aren’t making a judgment call on the person’s personality and life challenges. You are looking at a narrow slice of the person’s life as it plays out in the workplace. Since your assessment will not be colored by emotion, and we assume that your employer sees certain abilities and skills in you that led to this promotion, we expect you to see more than any of the workers can see into themselves.

Ideally, you too will have someone giving you feedback on how you come across. Are you too harsh or too wishy-washy? Do you explain things clearly or do you sound too academic?

Thank you for your kind words about the podcast and Scrolling through Scripture. We look forward to unveiling some new projects soon.

Wishing you success in your new position,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin


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