Community and real connection is what I crave and so do my clients. A key to finding true community is through peeling back layers of our mask and demonstrating appropriate levels of vulnerability.
3 Ways to explore more vulnerability
The more I allow people to see me, the better my relationships have become personally and professionally. I will be really digging deep into this over the next few months. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions to get your started. Good luck. I would love to hear from you.
# 1 Journaling
I talked about the power of journaling in my book, Navigating through the Storm. The power of journaling is that it gives you a safe place to totally take the mask(s) off and to show up as yourself. I have made more progress personally and professionally when I have been actively journaling. It is a great way to tune into your own needs, your own voice and to find self-acceptance.
# 2 Performing
There is a famous Shakespeare quote that “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances.” Because I believe this is true, it stands to reason that you may have become desensitized to the mask(s) that you are wearing. By putting yourself in a pure performance mode, it can shake you awake and allow you to explore fresh choices. Many performers (singers, actors, or speakers) feel that they are more the true selves when in performance mode. You don’t need a big audience. Turn on your web camera and record a video just for yourself. Give yourself some space and time before viewing it. Once you do, look and listen for what really rings true and what feels false. The video camera is a great way to start stripping layers of the mask. If you are feeling brave get some feedback from a trusted friend or tribe member.
# 3 Find a Like Minded Group
For years, I was a facilitator of a tremendous workshop called Extraordinary Facilitation Skills. We kept this class small and inevitably one of the things that would happen in addition to people improving their facilitation skills, was a bond that got created between participants. In those two days, we saw people find their voice, find authenticity and connection. I think what made it work was the like mindedness of the people who had a sincere desire to grow. I participate in a mastermind group and I feel encouraged to slowly take of layers of my own mask. I am forming a mastermind group with the focus on the outsiders, others and impostors finding more purpose, deep connections and a greater voice where they live and work. For more information, about the mastermind group, please email me at email@example.com.
Oh she may be weary, you girls, they do get weary, wearing that same old shaggy dress. Yeah, Yeah.
We all wear shaggy dresses. We all have these masks that we wear and they’re important. We need to the mask to fit in. We all need this connection with other human beings. This need to belong starts off with our families, our friends in our neighborhood and schools. We carry these masks into our organizational lives where we make our livings. We often add layers to our mask (s) and old shaggy dresses.
These layers interfere with really hearing our true voice. The mask prevents us from making those authentic connections that we most want and our need to belong. And particularly for people like me, what I call the others, who are instantly outsiders because of sex or race. We don’t like the other leaders. You are a female senior leader in a male dominated senior leadership pool. Or you are a man of color (Black, Asian or Latino) you feel this burden not to stand out or to fuck up because you know you not only represent yourself, your family, but you have the extra burden of representing future women or men of color leaders. We all have these masks and they can become heavy and shaggy and wear us down.
I belong to a group of likeminded entrepreneurs and they challenged me to strip some layers off my masks. I did a video for the group and there was this thread that really resonated and spoke to me. The short version is that I am black man who grew up as a middle child, who has worked most of his career in organizations that were predominantly white. There were not a lot of leaders who looked like me, so I got adept at add layers to my mask to fit in. It was literally exhausting.
What I realized is that the others, the outsiders, and those who feel like imposters are the people I love serving. Those women and men who like me are tired of hiding to fit in. You are tired of the thickness of the masks and the shaggy dresses that don’t fit you. You are longing for masks and armor that fits and speaks to your identity.
Maybe you are a strong black woman; Perhaps a powerhouse Asian female. Or maybe, you are a take charge black man with a little swagger. You know your outsider status. What you are wanting is to unmask just a little to let out more of your true identity. Instead fearing alienation, there will be a little, what you will find is you find more authentic connections.
What happens is you start to call forth those people who you really want to be in connection with. You find your ideal clients and deeper ties within your community.
You start to vibe and start to find the tribe because you are no longer just trying to survive or fit in. You start to thrive because you are using your voice.
In the next couple of months, I am really going to peel back the layers of this topic of mask and identity and how you can use this process to deepen, strengthen and call forth more meaningful work, impact and connections.
We want the dress, the clothes, the mask you wear to feel like they are yours. We want them to fit better and serve you. So that when you look at the mask from either the inside or outside, you see more of you. One that enables more of you to come through while giving you the protection you need.
My goal is to help you to call forth the people, things and projects that nourish you as you most need to be.
My call to you is if you’re interested in learning about how to start to unmask check out my tips in the written section of this blog. In it I give you a few suggestions on how to peel back layers of your masks.
If you like the mask that you are seeing, hearing and reading that I am wearing (yes, I still have a mask on, but it is more fitting and more me than ever before), I am asking you to hang around. Let’s find ways to connect and communicate. The truth is if what I am putting out is resonating with you, then there is a way we are supposed to be engaged to serve our collective communities.
Please take a moment and share your thoughts and comments.