A few nights ago I was relaxing and reflecting on how I got to this point in my life and reminiscing about the people and circumstances that helped mold me into the person I am today. One person in particular came to mind, although we haven’t spoken in many years. I wondered what happened to them, how their life turned out and if they are still alive. This person had a short tenure in my life, but left such an indelible mark on me that many others have not been able to affect in years. How can one person motivate such change in such a short time? How can we leave that legacy when interacting with others?
I am sure there are several articles from big name magazines and Ivy League review magazines trending on LinkedIn and professional websites that address this topic. They will have 5, 7 or 10 points or suggestions for you to implement in your professional or personal life to “make your mark” or “leave a legacy”. I submit there is ONE thing you must do to change people’s lives and make your legacy in any area of your life. It is the most difficult thing you will ever have to do.
Yes, the one thing you have to do to change lives, both yours and others, is be yourself. It might be the most terrifying thing, exposing the true you to the world. There are a myriad of fearful questions that take flight in the mind when thinking of what taking off the layers of protection personality and ego afford. When authenticity was first suggested to me I thought, “What if they don’t like me? What if I fail?” My initial solution was to stop writing. If authentic was a quality then maybe this wasn’t for me because that kind of failure was just too much. It took a while to realize that my fear was defeating me and I was failing by giving in to fear.
People are waiting for something real! We all look for it: the real deal, a real love, “I’m just keepin’ it real”. Post Secret is immensely popular and addictive because it allows the poster and the reader to connect and share on a level that society does not subscribe to. The problem is when folks are face to face no one wants to take off their mask first. No one wants to take the risk.
There is no simple fix to expedite the process of “being real”. Protecting ourselves has been ingrained in us since we were first able to process thought. You will have to apply yourself and look for opportunities to reveal the true you, choosing between putting up a front and being authentic. Like a deep friendship or relationship, time will slowly strip away the layers and bonds will be formed based on these revelations. These bonds can be within the workplace, friendships or with family. The results are far reaching and beneficial. Your personal and professional relationships will be improved because your colleagues, family and friends will feel valued. You will get more accomplished because the roadblocks of ego and grandstanding will be washed away. Your interactions will be more intense and people will be authentic with you because they know they can trust you. Take off your mask and see the difference it can make.
Post Secret Submission