Monday, February 9, 2015

Authenticity, Integrity, Transparency and Being Alone

The host looked over at me and asked if I had any final words of wisdom.

"My intention isn't to offend anyone by what I'm about to say.............."

I went on to make an observation about something I don't even remember. But here is what I do remember. In the green room after the broadcast was finished the host said this:

"You know John, if you don't offend some people some of the time you are not being authentic.  You are just playing to an audience." (Or words to that effect.)

Might as well have taken a machete and cut me off at the knees. Wow!! I always know when you've hit upon something because I get this clammy feeling inside of me and this little voice says "See you ain't as wonderful as you think you are."

Lets clarify here. I'm not talking about crossing a line, dissing on anyone or a group of anyone's. I'm not talking about being racist, sexist or any other "ist."

I'm talking about being real, about being authentic and being transparent. Real integrity comes from looking deep inside, admitting you have fears and reservations about your life and the world around you and not being afraid to share those doubts and concerns. It means that you admit to yourself and to others that life isn't about standing on a hill top somewhere and putting your arms around the person next to you and singing "We Are the World." At least it isn't for me.

It's about following your path, the one that was created for you long ago and far away. Maybe you stumbled a bit and fell in a ditch. Maybe you wanted the path next to your path. It looked cleaner and straighter and everyone on it had margaritas in their hands and were having a blast!!! Maybe you couldn't find your path if it were highlighted in shimmering blue magic marker. Maybe it came to you late in life. Maybe you knew it all along and were so afraid to walk on it, so you piggy backed on other peoples backs.

The phone rings and I hear about a business thats 2.5 inches away from falling into the toilet bowel. They are run by good people with good ideas who do not represent a substantial revenue stream to other coaches and consultants. They are left to their own devices. The SBA's and EDC' s of this world don't see them as a positive PR opportunity so they slow play them until they get tired of coming in with questions. They need some guidance or everything they have is going to go floating down the Ohio River during the next hard rain. They don't have advanced degrees, never taken a leadership seminar and think social media is still AOL. These people are struggling to simply survive. You don't see them on Ted Talks, inspirational videos, G+ Hangouts or the like.

Before Joan and I got married over 40 years ago I sat down looked in her eyes and said; "You need to know something about me - I collect strays."

"Oh, she said. I like animals,you needn't worry."  

"No Joan I collect stray people."

She's been in my corner 1000% of the time. I cant say that for the rest of the world. I've put my faith and trust in people who didn't think they'd make it another day and they rose to the occasion. I've been burnt to.

Been called a fool.

Been told I am wasting my time and talent.

There were times I  probably was.

My path gets lonely sometimes because I just don't think outside the box; some days I don't know what galaxy the box is in. Sometimes it's dark and I cant hear the sound of another soul.

But it's my path and it's the path I've chosen to walk.

I'll always be honest

I'll always be authentic

I'll always be transparent.

I'll always be me

How bout you?