Friday, October 29, 2010

Masking our Authentic Self


In life we wear masks. These masks are of all shapes and sizes and they hide our true, authentic self.

Think about it, everyday...

...a salesman is making a promise they know they can't deliver on.
...a company is re-branding just to re-brand (GAP).
...an employee is working to build and promote a product they don't believe in.
...a printer is lying to themselves about the effects of e-readers on the printing industry and not taking steps today to adapt and change.
...someone is deceived by falling into a relationship built on lies.
...blame is assessed to an undeserving scapegoat because the fear of taking ownership of an issue or fixing the real problem overwhelms others.
...an artist becomes a suit.
...a musician or band goes mainstream, moving on from their raving fans.
...a teacher is forced to adhere to a system of education as opposed to touching student lives on a daily basis with unique, thoughtful and tailored methods.
...the truth is hidden.

We wear these masks out of fear of reality. Sometimes we are forced to wear these masks to make a living while other times we wear them because the truth just doesn't seem profitable.

Halloween gives us the opportunity every year to dress up and wear a mask in a more obvious way. In some weird way, many of us represent our true, authentic selves on this holiday more than any other day of the year. As an adult, if I like to emulate a Will Ferrell character (Mugatu) on Halloween because it's fun and makes the other people around me laugh, why is it so hard bring that same honesty, energy and laughter to work on a daily basis?

As a sales rep and marketer, I struggle with this constantly. I'll get so caught up in coming across as professional and portraying a certain image, that it becomes easy to lose sight of who I really am. No one can expect perfection out of people and sometimes just being who you are makes more business sense than the mask that you think you should put on each day.

Long term relationships are build on the kind of tough honesty where people are willing to take off their mask.  However, being your true, authentic self means you are probably not standing in the middle on every issue. When you take a strong position or represent a more clear image of who you are, then you will certainly have more enemies but you'll also create bigger fans. Fans like this will stand behind you through thick and thin. Fans like this make it profitable to take off the mask.
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