“Those who can’t laugh at themselves leave the job to others.”

By Hui Rei Yap. Hui Rei lives in Singapore. She is a lecturer at a Singapore institution.

In order to excel at what we do in life, we need to have the ability to see our blind spots and then work on it. That statement itself is an oxymoron. Precisely we cannot see our blind spots that is why they are termed as blind spots!

So how do we see our blind spots which is the crucial step in excelling in what we do, thus, get the job done? It is through being able to laugh at ourselves. It sounds very simple but there is a whole mountain of personal development work that goes behind a person who can truly enjoy a laugh at himself and herself.

Laughing at ourselves means that we recognise that we are not perfect or we do not have to pretend to be perfect. Society has created norms such that we have alienated our authentic selves from our work persona. We have to be project confidence whether we feel that or not. We have to learn the ways we present ourselves, from the tone of our voices, to the styles of our hair to the colours of our suit. Often, we are very good at projecting a successful outward image but inside, we may be filled with deep-seated fears, like fears of judgement or failures. We are afraid of exposing our inner vulnerable self. Being able to laugh at ourselves means that we are willing to connect with others with our authentic selves in an open and genuine manner.

To be able to arrive at this step of connecting with others with our authentic selves, we need to be strong and self-assured individuals. It takes a strong heart to be able to be vulnerable, to use phrases like ‘I don’t know’, ‘Please help me’ or ‘I am worried’. It takes a strong heart to be able to listen to others’ feedback without building up that defensive wall. It takes a strong heart to admit that you are wrong and change from there. With this, we get better and better at what we do. Our relationships with others’ also improve, which then further fuels us in getting the job done even better.

People who cannot laugh at themselves protect their fragile inner ego with strong armour. They cannot be wrong. They get all uptight when people do not follow their instructions. They refuse to hear the bad feedback, and only want to hear the good feedback that boosts their ego. They refuse to say sorry. Such behaviour would only stall their own personal growth and start them on the slow downward spiral of incompetency.

So to be able to laugh at ourselves, first, love ourselves. Take time to know ourselves. Our real inner selves are the true gifts; our outward appearances are just like wrapping papers. Know what our true passions are and what we really want to do in our lives. Develop ourselves. Learn with a thirst. Once we work at loving ourselves, we are not afraid of showing our authentic selves to others and laugh at ourselves. Then, we get the job done.

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