“How am I so lucky that I keep getting these amazing groups of people?” It was question that I asked myself several times. Several years ago I facilitated 4+2 day leadership programs that focused on enabling people to bring out the best in themselves and others. It was introspective, different than most participants expected, and could be fairly intense as leaders grappled with who they were, who wanted to be, and how they were going to make it happen.
The very first group I facilitated was phenomenal. They were concerned, caring, had big dreams, and were striving to make a difference. I was surprised and humbled. And the next group I facilitated was just as amazing. And the one after that. And the one after that. Different companies, different countries, it didn’t matter. All were incredible people.
How could it be? Sure, some groups were going to be above average, but all of them? Where were the normal people? The ones who cut others off in traffic, the ones who make complaining their personal mission, the lazy and unmotivated folks, the jerks? Where were they?
It took me an embarrassing long time to realize that the participants in the program were the normal people. Normal people want to be successful (however they define success) and want to be happy. They are caring and concerned and have big dreams, hopes, passions, and inspirations. Strip away the filters and masks and superficial layers we all wear as armor against the world and we’re all amazing, interesting, compelling, phenomenal.
But there’s the challenge. It’s those very filters, masks, and layers we create to protect ourselves that ironically prevent us from being our best. They are the overused strengths that become weaknesses and trip us up. They are the barriers that keep us from being real, authentic, transparent; the walls that keep us from connecting with others (and even ourselves) in ways that matter.
The people who stand out are the ones comfortable with their vulnerability, confident with their strengths, and open about their challenges. What will you do today to be more of the person you really are yet rarely let others see?