Aloha from Hawaii where I’ve just spoken to a fabulous group of leaders from Berkshire Hathaway.
If you aren’t familiar with the name, you are probably familiar with their chairman and founder Warren Buffett. One of the things I admire most about Warren is his complete lack of pretension. While I didn’t get to meet him, I have no doubt that if I ever did, he’d pretty much be the way I’d expect him to be. Friendly, down to earth, generous-spirited and most of all, unaffected by the extraordinary wealth he’s created over his lifetime (much of which he’s now given away).
Quite similar to how I found Richard Branson during my visit to Necker Island a few years ago. Very real. Very personable. Totally devoid of airs and graces. Far more concerned with doing good than looking good.
Which brings me to the point of this post …the power of authenticity and letting go (however gradually) the need to prove, please or impress.
Let’s face it, we live in a world of superficiality and fakeness. You don’t have to look very far to see examples of people who feel they need to prove something to the world; to impress people with their brilliance, beauty, business savvy, wealth or wit.
The reality is that we are all born pre-programmed with a need for social approval; hardwired to want to ‘look good’ (or avoid looking bad) in the eyes of others. And yet the people we are most at ease with — whom we admire the most — are not those who walk around puffing their chests out, preening their feathers, touting their designer bling, trying to ‘look good’ to impress and prove themselves, they are the people who are at home with themselves.
Of course, I’d like to tell you I was always at home with myself. Alas, I’m still a work-in-progress …still letting go of the image I want the world to see and stepping into the ‘flawsome’ fallibility of the ‘human becoming’ that I am.
I’m guessing that you are too.
So here’s what I want you to know:
You can be wholly imperfect and innately flawed, fabulous and fallible …all at the same time.
And the best thing is, when you give yourself permission to own who you are — and let go trying to be someone you’re not — you not only liberate yourself to step out onto new ground and try new things, you open a doorway for people to connect with you, and you with them, in far more meaningful, real and truly rewarding ways.
Odds are I will never get to meet Mr Buffet. (And Richard Branson may no longer remember my name!) But one thing I know for certain is this: every time we meet someone who is truly at home with themselves, they make it safer for us to be ourselves also.
And you don’t have to be a billionaire to give others that gift.
You just have to show up and be yourself.
Quirks and all.
Faults and all.
Insecurities and all.
Brilliance and all.
Because if there’s anything I’ve learnt over the course of my life so far, it’s that every single one of us — and that includes you — is born with our own unrepeatable brand of brilliance.
We may not all gain accolades, win Oscars, or create masterpieces.
We may not all have a voice that woos crowds, the looks to land a magazine cover or the desire to build a billion-dollar business.
But each of us is born to make our own mark in the world; to leave our own imprint on the hearts of those we encounter as we pass through this life.
And the size of that imprint is directly proportional to our willingness to lower our masks, reveal our vulnerability and open our hearts to the humanity of others.
So …as I asked in this video I filmed on Necker Island a few years back, where could you trade looking good for doing good?
I ended my talk this morning by paraphrasing Maya Angelou:
People won’t always remember what you said or what you did. But they will always remember how you made them feel.
There is no more powerful way to lift up people around you — to make them feel heard, valued and validated — than by showing up as the one-of-a-kind person that you are.
Just you. Raw and real. Imperfect and unphotoshopped.
Because you know what? There’s no one else who can touch the people who enter your orbit the way that you can.
So get to it.
In a world that pressures us to look good and fit in, never has it been so important to do good and stand out.