The smartest, most thoughtful, most introspective people are not necessarily the most self-aware.

I’m terrible at impressions. In my head they sound great, funny, spot-on! But in the world outside my head, people are looking at me like I’ve got two. I’ve realized this for the most part and stick to delivering famous quotes and movie lines in my own voice. I also try to avoid accents, which I’m equally ill-equipped to reproduce.

Having been a serious singer for many years, I’ve learned over time that I suffer the same disconnect with my singing voice. I’ve learned to deliver a sound based on what “feels right”, not what “sounds right”. The times I’ve been praised the most on my singing voice are not necessarily when it sounded ideal inside my head.

Those tangible examples point to a much more inherent truth about self-awareness. To really understand any objective impact you have on the world, you must rely on feedback from outside yourself. I know people with terribly broken feedback loops who walk around all day led by their good intentions, but failing to understand that the sound they’re making to the outside world is not having the imagined impact.