I recently facilitated a workshop at the Encuentro Internacional de Equipos de Trabajo —an amazing international conference on best practices and innovations in workplace collaboration. My workshop was called: Taking Off Our Masks to Unleash the Power of Authenticity on Your Team.

These are the words I used to open the workshop:

“People are like lanterns. The lantern is lit and the light is always there. But at times the sides of the lantern can become covered with mud so others do not benefit from our light, or can’t see it in its brightest form. What is the truest and brightest version of you as a leader? What are the self-created forms of “mud” that sometimes obscure your light – that cause you to be less resourceful, less authentic, and less courageous?

In your quest for safety, security, or perfection do you sometimes place a mask over your true nature and turn your back on your values or true purpose? When do you avoid vulnerability and in doing so deny others the contributions that only you are capable of making? What parts of you do you hold in exile?

Here is my truth: Safe, secure, and perfect are illusions when it comes to human existence! As leaders we must learn to enter into the most difficult situations – intense conflicts, complex decisions, high-stakes conversations, and experiments in which we face failure – with the courage to take off the masks and let ourselves be seen. In doing so we will inspire others to do the same. This is our work.”

What arises within you as you read this piece?

For me, as I look around at our public, political, and organizational leaders, it can be difficult to find an example of true authenticity – the person who says: “I’m sorry. I had a blind spot and as a result, I hurt you. I take responsibility for this and in the future I’ll handle this differently. Thank you for speaking up.” Or the leader who says, “I know this is not the message you want to hear but it’s the one I need to deliver today and here’s why…”

What is the light in you that has become dim or imperceptible to others? What parts of you do you hold in exile? What is the mask or false persona has become your default strategy for self-protection or self-promotion?

Photo Credit: londonista_londonist

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