"Youare old, father William," the young man said...
DIRECTIONOF ERROR (dàe)
DàEis a simple concept that’s served me well forthe last thirty years. I found it in aconversation with one of my early mentors. He wore an expensive watch and was very proud of its accuracy.
Thisis how the notion of DàEcame into my life. One of the great things it’s done is help me stop trying to beperfect (and right) all the time:
Toget the benefits of using DàE,you have to be willing to trade in righteousness for humility. (Righteousness doesn't want to accept being imperfect; it wants to notice howimperfect everyone else is and judge them for it. Thisphenomenon is known as Projection.) If you aren't willing to see and laugh at your own absurdities,DàEwon't work for you.
Butlet's say your absurdities (like mine) are so blatant you’ve been tripping over them allyour life, and sometimes you even think they're funny (Humor& Self-Acceptance). If so, you're ready for DàE. Here's how to use it:
CHOOSEA SPECIFIC DIMENSION TO FOCUS ON- It's important to make DàEvery specific in terms of both content and situation. (You don’t want to fall in themasochistic trap of having a global DàE. For example, let's take the dimension of:
Attending toSelf Attending to Others
100% 50-50 100%
Mostof us look at this dimension and immediately know what our DàEis (whether we generally attend too muchto others or overly focus on ourselves - think Fleetwood Mac's "You give yourselfaway" versus Sinatra's "I did it my way.”) But we need to be careful. Self-perceptionis not the most reliable of realities.
GETHONEST FEEDBACK FROM THOSE WHO KNOW YOU WELL - Be sure and test whateverconclusions you come to with intimate friends and family. An easy way to do this is to draw a diagram like the one above and put an Xon it where you think your general DàEis.
Showyour diagram to five or six people you trust and listen to what they say. You may simply get confirmation that affirms your self-perception, or you may getsurprised. Either way you learn andunderstand yourself more fully. (And thesurprises can be pleasant, too, showing you you've developed in ways you like more thanyou thought.)
USEYOUR DàE TO HELP YOU COMPENSATE FOR YOURSELF -If your diagram looks like the one above, you probably “give yourself away” to othersmore than is good for you. This is my wife'sDàE (mine is thereverse). If she says she can't find her carkeys, I think, "Well, I surely don’t know where they are" and go on about mybusiness. If I say something about havinglost my keys, she jumps up and starts to look for them. Knowing her DàEhas made a noticeable difference. Even though her first response is still to jump up, she quickly catches herself andsays something like, "Oh, right – they’re your keys, aren't they? Let me know if you really need my help” and then goes on about her business. Knowing your DàE on different dimensions can work like this for you, too…
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