Are you wearing a Mask?
We all wear masks, we are socialised very early on to wear masks. Different masks for different people and different situations. The mask one wears at work is most likely very different from the mask one wears when with old acquaintances, which is different from the mask at a gathering of close, intimate friends. People wear masks to protect themselves from scrutiny and judgment (which is sad) – all the time wondering inside “what would they think if they really knew me?” or “what would they think if they only knew the truth?” I believe we need to show up as ourselves and be authentic.
One of my favourite quotes is “being who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter mind”– this is from Dr. Seuss. This is assumed to be wonderful example of what it takes to be authentic and to live an authentic life. However, I have an exception to this, sometimes those “that matter do mind”, and they may have real power over you via your job or as a family relationship. In the real world saying what you feel can be a problem, just ask Rosanne Barr.
Sometimes it is useful to have the social ability to mask your authentic feelings, you might do this to protect yourself, or to protect those around you. Especially if it is a situation in which another person can take malicious advantage off you or yours. This is what I call being realistic and yet being authentic. Sometimes the easiest strategy is the oldest one, be silent and shut up, but I personally would rather take the risk to show up!
Being authentic doesn’t mean being stupid and blurting out every thought at every moment to everyone. Living inauthentically over time can cause problems, when what you say and what you do doesn’t match how we actually think and feel, this can cause an internal conflict and tremendous emotional strain. Just ask Roseanne Barr, who blew up the Internet/Twitter with a racist comment, is she being authentic, or is she a racist. Roseanne has a history of conspiracy theories, racist comments and over the last few years she has become even more extreme. So, yes Rosanne is being authentic she is an authentically a racist.
If one consistently lives wearing a mask the price is enormous, leading to depression anxiety and loss of one’s own sense of “authenticity”, eventually we blow up just like Rosanne. In the ideal world and leading an ideal life we would not have to censor or manage our authentic expression. Today world has become aggressive, contentious, angry and this presents a challenge living authentically. This is an especially difficult if one makes one’s living online, as a public speaker as a leader or as a racist TV star .
Authenticity is taken a rather strange pathway since it was brought into public discussion, by the book “The Authentic Leader”in 2006. Many people today have taken and distorted the idea into that they can say what they want, when they want, how they want and that is being “authentic”. That is not being authentic, disrespecting another race, political views or values is being stupid and ignorant. An authentic individual recognizes everyone is different, has different values and respects that.
I have been advocating people “show up” and “being real” since my days of leading the Pursuit of Excellence” more than 30 years ago now. My focus will how to “live authentically” in today’s world, as I believe we need to live more authentically, I am inspired by the leadership of women today, as they confront and challenge misogamy and the failed leadership of so many men.
Be smart, be authentic, show up and live your life authentically.
As always, I really appreciate that you are reading my post. I regularly write about authentic leadership, authentic self expression and communication issues and trends. If you would like to watch my regular posts then please click ‘Follow’ and send me an invite. And, of course, feel free to also connect via Twitter, and Geoffrey X Lane.
Geoffrey X Lane ~ Live Authentically
Geoffrey has over 25 years B2B experience. He has led teams for 2010 Winter Olympic Bid, Rocky Mountaineer, Wavefront, Sandwell Engineering, FKP Architects, Telus and Stantec. Geoffrey taught at the Sauder School of Business, Executive Education, and University of British Columbia.