Have you ever met someone who seems to work so hard to hide their true self from the world? They try to say and do all the “right” things to cultivate your perception of them as a good leader, a faithful spouse, a loving parent, or a perfect employee. Every action, every statement is carefully chosen to paint a picture of a confident and successful person. Their efforts to present this carefully crafted “image” to others are based on a simple, but flawed premise: no one will ever see through the charade. No one will ever look to see the “man behind the curtain.”
But we do, don’t we? Fear and insecurity creates cracks in their façade that we can see right through and while we may feel compassion for them at first, eventually we become hesitant to trust them. There is such truth in Maya Angelou’s philosophy, “When others show you who they are, believe them.” No matter what words you choose to say, your actions are the window into your authentic self.
I know it can be hard to drop the façade. Sometimes we’ve been telling ourselves a story for so long, we begin to believe our own hype. But isn’t it true that most of our imperfections are never quite as bad as our efforts to hide or cover them up? Own your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions. Shifting blame will only lose you respect.
When your words and your actions are not in sync you will not be perceived as authentic or genuine, and you certainly can’t be an authentic leader if you don’t have integrity as a person. It will never work.
There is so much power in your actions, in what you choose to do, that it will always override whatever you say. If you say you value your friends, but continue to keep them waiting by showing up late for every gathering, your actions speak louder than your words and it may eventually impact your relationships. If you make promises to your team that you do not follow through on, they will learn from your actions not to trust or rely on you.
This week, think carefully about the kind of leader or person you want to be; not that image you have in your head, but reflect honestly on what your behavior (or inaction) says about you.
If you say you’re trustworthy, are you behaving in a way that builds trust?
If you say you’re supportive, are you behaving in a way that supports others?
If you say you love, are you demonstrating to others that they are loved?
And if you say you value someone; are you treating them with respect?
If you don’t like what you see, change your behavior immediately. The truth is if you really want to be a different person, all you have to do is begin the process of changing right now.
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