Recently I attended a leadership banquet with many VIPs who spoke eloquently with dignity. You could tell they knew their content and expected everyone to hang on their words–even pausing for a response after every couple of phrases. While the experience was one most desired to be a part of and I was certainly flattered to be in attendance, I kinda felt like a fish out of water.
The air was stagnant with what appeared to be arrogance and perceived prestige.
I had to constantly “control my face” as my husband warns me often because I didn’t want to offend anyone.
Surface deep smiles beckoned the crowd to recognize them as authentic.
The fear of being REAL was thick in the air. In fact, status and influence smothered the REAL oxygen from the participants within this particular atmosphere.
Actions shouted louder than words.
Passion Reveals REAL
As we were sitting with a group, I noticed this man talking about writing. I leaned in closer to hear what he had to say, and he welcomed my interest.
His words intrigued me.
He was different.
He wasn’t like the others. He shared his passion for writing. Common ground, for sure.
Way later, he told me about his love for writing poetry, but how he didn’t share them with anyone. After chatting about alliteration and figurative language and all things that interest writing nerds, he pulled up a few of the poems from the google app on his phone and asked if I wanted to read them.
They were astounding! So raw. So REAL. Moving was an understatement.
The rest of the room was busy upholding a distinct reputation, but what I was experiencing was far more meaningful to me.
Each poem represented areas of deep darkness in his life and how he overcame the fear that tried to slay him–literally. I encouraged him to publish his poetry. I assured him, with tears threatening to leak from my eyes, others need to hear your story! They’d never expect it from you!
He just humbly smiled and informed me how he felt as though they were just for him. I thanked him for feeling safe to share his vulnerability with me. I expressed how truly honored I was for the opportunity to be one of the few readers of his marvelous work.
Then, I concluded with…
Thank you for being:
Exposing a little vulnerability
Learning through life
VIP or REAL?
This (pointing to the room around us) doesn’t resonate with most people. It’s not helpful; it seems like a mask to cover insecurities or something. No doubt, I’m privileged to be included in this event, but attaining a special status isn’t why I got into leadership. I know you understand my thought process, but it seems as though, those that seek “this” have a purpose that’s far different from you and me.
To be honest, I’m uncertain what their purpose is. But, creating a culture where one must be fearful of being REAL, isn’t best for those I serve. In short, all of “this” isn’t critical to fulfilling my purpose in this life as an educator or as a human for that matter.
You, my friend, have something that is genuine, authentic, and encouraging. I love how your writing doesn’t dwell on the problem or the hardship, failure, and despair, but rather your poetry gives hope. It’s that second wind the runners of life need to hear. You should consider publishing them. Then, I used one of my favorite lines from Dave Burgess,
“We don’t just want you to share your amazing work, we need you to share it.”
VIP or REAL?
Or, might the REAL VIPs be everyday people (along with influential leaders such as the one mentioned in my post) sharing their overcoming stories and connecting with those around them?
How do we share our transparency with the students and staff we serve? Please don’t get me wrong, we should NOT air our dirty laundry for all to see, but rather focus on the overcoming aspect of our life’s experiences.
How might this small shift inspire those within our realm of influence?
Passion reveals the REAL VIP.