Years ago I attended a self-awareness workshop. There was a quite varied mix of people in the group – self-assured and confident to broken, scared, closed-off to everything in between. The first exercise we did as a group was line up in two rows facing each other. We were given five seconds with the person in front of us before shifting to the next person until we had been face to face with each person in the room. Our instructions were simple: without talking, grade the person in front of you on a scale of 1 to 5. And… go!
It was interesting to see people’s choices—some showing 5 fingers, others only showing 1. The first person in front of me I held up my hand. 5 fingers. They gave me a 5 back. Shift to the right. This person looked completely broken and scared. This person had given their last partner a 1. I gave them a 5. They gave me a 5 back. Shift right. Mr. Enthusiasm right in front of me. Fives. Shift. As we went through the entire group, around 80 people, I enthusiastically gave each person a 5. Regardless of how they looked. It wasn’t that I had planned to do that. I didn’t even know we were doing this exercise. I didn’t have time to plan how I would grade each person.
Why did I score every person a 5? Is it because I’m some enlightened being? No! It’s because I have all the same feelings of self-assuredness to scared to confident to broken and everything in between. I saw them in me. And so, regardless of how we presented ourselves, I saw the inherent value in each person. I was saying, “I see you. You are valued.” And in turn, they saw me back. Honestly, I don’t remember if I scored all 5s. And it doesn’t really matter, because what I realized is that their score was a reflection of themselves. What a powerful display of the fragility of the human spirit! And how powerful we can be in the life of someone else!
This exercise leaves me with these thoughts. Are you more interested in giving a 5 or getting a 5? Are you willing to give a 5 to everyone or just the ones who seem to have it together? You, my friend, are a 5 to me!