â€œThe World Changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives.â€Â â€”â€ŠArmistead Maupin
Some of my colleagues on Facebook asked me why I posted the photo of myself in double casts, with bed head, in my jams. I was messed up in that photo because of a recent minor procedure to alleviate carpal tunnel and couldnâ€™t move my hands much. It had taken me five minutes just to brush my hair into the tangle it ended up, but I felt good about myself. And even though my hands are still messed the hell up today and itâ€™s taken me ages to type this (even with the aid of voice dictation), I felt and feel good about my body, my capabilities and myself.Â And thatâ€™s a message I wanted to share.
“Be your life ever so screwed sideways from how anyone else might look at it, you have a choice in how you choose to see and experience it. That choice is yours every single day.”
I used to hang with a number of guru-style business and leadership Coaches who projected an â€œIâ€™m perfect, be like meâ€ image to the world. They had dazzlingly white smiles, drove Porsches, had trophy spouses and never messed upâ€¦at least not in public. They never posted a social media update that admitted to any kind of failing, bad day, off patch, or learning processâ€Šâ€”â€Šall of their updates, their websites and sales pages painted them the perfect guru. These folks spawned a whole lot of students and mentees who ran themselves ragged trying to duplicate their success. Many failed and quit their businesses. Many needed therapy to deal with the burden of stress their businesses or corporate positions had become. A few succeeded, under enormous stress.
Trying to be perfect is hard. It can kill you.
When I looked behind the curtain of that seemingly perfect success, all was not as it seemed. I saw an army of assistants helping these business owners, their harried and sometimes angry interactions with these helpers, crappy personal relationships, divorces, blowups with their business partners and even falsified financial results. They certainly werenâ€™t telling their followers that it took an army to achieve what they had. Their businesses were carefully constructed faÃ§ades, behind which, like any good movie set, could be found any number of hidden structures that created the final effect. You never got to see the real magic-makers, only the final, polished product.
Which isnâ€™t real.
There are plenty of genuinely authentic teachers, coaches and business leaders out there. Whatever their past, they will admit to their current-day flaws readily and publicly. When they mess up, they will own up, and apologize where necessary. When they learn a lesson, they share it and and teach from their learnings. Genuine teachers are warm and welcoming, authentic coaches that get it never make you wrong, and all revel in the divine imperfection that life just is.
Anyone who looks too perfectâ€¦probably isnâ€™t.
And for me, those are not mentors I want.
I want somebody who shows me their stringy hairâ€¦stringy because they stayed up all night nursing their sick kid, partner or petâ€¦and learned a valuable leadership lesson they have to share before a model-perfect clean can be effected.
I want someone real enough to admit that they made money before when they were all shiny and new, but not so much this year, and are going to have to take a second job to make ends meet. Someone who is honest about it, unashamed of where they are, and wants me to know the valuable lessons they learned.
I want to hang out with people that are real, not plastic.
People who value wrinkles, bad days, pajamas, imperfection and last yearâ€™s fashions, the fact that folks are really trying and need a break, who see the beauty in sweat, honestly-earned grime and the kind of heaving your lungs do as you crest a hard-won summit.
I will ask then, as we breathe together, what can you tell me, from a down dog with a split in theÂ seam of your yoga pants, your hair in a frazzle and your careful notes scattered?
When the software fails and the line goes dead and the suit doesnâ€™t arrive and the makeup artist is late, what exudes from the depths of your soul when you have to improvise from scratch?
That is what I want to absorb, to learn, to know.
That would be Real. Genuine. Authentic.
That you share and I share imperfectly together, helps us become greater than the sum of our parts, experience and separate intentions. These are experiences I desire. And the point isâ€¦We are not separate, not alone, and our seeming imperfection isnâ€™t real at all.
We are whole and perfect, just as we are.
This outer shell Western culture has so come to value, is so much tinsel and glitter. And all the frantic machinations we go through to remain young, create a false front for ourselves and appear the image of success are wasted energy. There is no such thing as Perfection. There is only an illusion called Perfection, and our harried, scrambling, joyless and unconscious dash to create our lives as this illusion. Which, when you look at it, is madness.
I can teach you a lot, I can coach you superbly well around creating a beautiful second life and a movement that helps and heals the world, that leverages you in such a way that you feel delicious and make a huge impact every day. But I am a damn sight from Perfect.
I am not Perfect now, and I never will be. Iâ€™m okay with that.
It doesnâ€™t mean that I wonâ€™t clean up, put on nice clothes and do my hair. I like doing those things because they make me feel good and let others know that I care about myself. And I will still keep finding things that can get better, and working on myself to become more comfortable in my life, to give more and be my best self not only for me, but for all I meet. That is worthy work for all of us.
I made a promise to the Dalai Lama to keep coming back and helping sentient beings rise to full awareness, until all are liberated. Iâ€™m stuck for a few lifetimes in this thing, so I want to make darned sure Iâ€™m doing my best, and helping everyone I know to do the same. Because most days, I need a boost from my dear sweet Tashicat to remember I need to stay Present myself. And to remain Real. And to refrain, no matter how tempting it is, from putting up a false front to make myself look good. Because that is illusion, and only leads to wasted time and energy.
Stay Awake, my friends. Stay Real, no matter how it looks.
Cultivate a fondness for wrinkles, bed head and early morning my-guard-is-down Truth.
Stay strong, be happy, and remember that you are Enoughâ€Šâ€”â€ŠJust As You Are.