By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator
We all wear a mask. We hide our true selves from others, something that is highly encouraged during Halloween when people dress up to be someone they’re not.
During every other day, the mask we wear is frequently inspired by our committee – the little voice inside your head that tells you someone won’t like you for any number of reasons. And, as is only natural for human beings, we look to protect ourselves from rejection, so we wear a mask to hide and downplay the things that are true about each of us, that we think won’t be accepted or appreciated by others.
One thing I’ve learned in my years on the planet is those who have happy, successful and amazing lives are first and foremost entirely true to who they are. This is because being true creates its own happiness. It frees you to use your full strengths and talents without reservation and, conveniently, this inspires success because these strengths and talents are both your competitive advantage and greatest abilities.
Those who are true to who they are can lead with what they are best at. They do what moves them and what interests them. They feel capable, inspired and energized. Just a taste of this can encourage almost anyone to toss the mask into the trash.
See, the more you wear your mask, the less of yourself you allow to come out. You stay hidden and blocked. You miss out on the life you could have and the one that fits you better.
For many years, I lived my life according to the way those around me thought I should. They told me what to believe, where to work, what to drive, who to love, how to live… Sometimes it came through as directive. Sometimes it was just assumed that you would fall into line the way your siblings and friends did. Go to college – we all do it. Work for a company – we all do it. Get married and have kids – we all do. Go to church – we all do it. That is, until you determine for yourself what is for you. It might be some of these, all of these or none of these. You choose.
Is it safer to wear a mask and pretend to fit in? Sure. But you weren’t born to blend. You were born to stand out, to be who we truly are, live your greatest abilities and make your unique difference. Only you can know what this is; others don’t and can’t until you let them in on it. So if you follow their guidance, especially if you know it to be contrary to who you are and what you feel, you sacrifice your ability to be the greatest version of yourself. You shortchange yourself and you shortchange the world from the thing or things you could do to make a better life for you and a greater world for all of us.
E.E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
So ditch the mask. Let the better, more amazing, truer and wiser you emerge.
Important Questions from a Coach
- What mask do you wear and why?
- What is the one place or time in your life where you know you can take the mask off?
- What will help you develop the courage to live who you really are and not be so worried about what others think and feel about you?
- What would it take for you to see past the mask to see your real greatness?
You are you and you are born just right. Stand proud. Discover, develop and live your true self. Find and use your true voice. Support others to do this same work.