I first met Joe and Harry while I was in graduate school in the late 1970s. At the time, I did not appreciate who they were or the depth of their insights. Now, thirty-five years later, I am starting to appreciate the significance of their thinking.
Joe Luft and Harry Ingham developed an information processing tool that is known as the Johari Window. It is a way of understanding what we know about ourselves and also, what we do not know.
The concept is that each person has four quadrants. Quadrant one is that part of a person that is known to others and it is known by the individual. This is known as the open arena. This is the information that one puts on a resume or posts to Facebook.
Quadrant two consists of that information that is known by others but is not known by the individual. This is often referred to as a persons blind spot.
Quadrant three consists of that which is known by the individual but it is not known by others. This is the hidden area of a persons life. Normally, this is the area that we hope nobody will come to know. Discovery in this arena often leads to a sense of shame and it is fueled by a fear. This is the fear that says: “if you knew me, you would not like me”.
Quadrant four consists of information that is unknown. This information is not known by the individual nor is it known by others. Because it is unknown, it represents an arena of great adventure as one sets out to discover that which they do not know about themselves. The greatest sadness is to think that there is nothing to discover. This sort of thinking usually develops when an individual sees themselves as quite simple or they see themselves as all knowing. Neither of these positions facilitate learning. Both are based on a false understanding of who we are. Neither arrogance or ignorance, when left unexamined, facilitate growth.
Once we start to understand these four quadrants, then we need to explore what it means to grow within these four quadrants. I would suggest that the starting point for this growth rests within quadrant four. The quadrant that is unknown to self and to others, is the quadrant that is known only by God. It is within the context of a relationship with God, the one who made me, calls me, empowers me and loves me that I have the possibility to really start to discover the totality of who I am. Here I have the possibility of starting to see and understand myself through the lens of the one who created me. I start to know and be known in new and empowering ways. This knowing combats that which is unknown in quadrant four.
An encounter with the Divine in quadrant four is transformational and empowering. It allows me to enter into community and into relationship with humility and confidence. Open, honest, and loving relationship becomes the context for growth in quadrants two and three. I know that in the context of relationship I can allow you to see what I have kept hidden because I know that my identity transcends our relationship. I know that I can allow you to speak truth into my life because, no matter what you might have to say, that which eliminates my blind spots is that which allows me to grow.
Therefore, this day, as you and I reflect on the four quadrants of life…….the question becomes, will we enter into the adventure of quadrant four? Will we risk encountering the One who made us in ways that will allow us to know and be known? Out of the intimacy of that knowing will we have the courage to look at our blind spots and reveal that which is hidden?
This might represent the ultimate adventure. Live life……choose adventure!!