You have likely seen the video of the BBC interview where the guy being interviewed had his kids burst into the room. If you haven’t, got watch it now. It will only take a minute and it’s worth it.
(Email readers can view it here: https://youtu.be/Mh4f9AYRCZY)
One of the most interesting things about the video is to watch this man’s reaction as his finely crafted illusion comes apart. He’s stunned. He seems sort of paralyzed about what to do. Then, he tries to pretend like it isn’t happening as if not looking at it means it’s not actually happening.
He was so attached to the illusion he had created for this interview that when his real life burst the bubble, he had no idea what to do.
The video is fun to watch and get a good chuckle. We can probably all relate to it on some level.
I think it’s also an invitation to reflect on the illusions we may be crafting in our own lives. The man in this video isn’t just a talking head. He’s also a father. And, he’s a husband. He’s also the guy who works out his home office (which happens to be in a bedroom).
But, he clearly wanted those elements of his identity to be kept separate from his “serious expert guy with serious stuff to say” talking head persona which landed him on the BBC. He had worked very hard trying to keep those worlds from colliding.
But they did. And frankly, the fact that he’s the husband and father in the bedroom home office makes him more relatable (and definitely more interesting).
Maintaining separate worlds and multiple identities is hard and risky work as this poor man discovered. Finding and embracing the authentic, beautiful, messy picture of who you are is liberating and powerful. Decreasing the gaps between who we say we are (or project we are) and who we really are is the journey to authenticity that we frequently speak and write about.
We have all experienced our worlds colliding–when our carefully crafted professional image collides with the reality of who we are.
- A professional contact recognizes you and calls your name at the grocery store early on a Saturday morning while you are in your sweats with your hair a mess.
- After imbibing a few too many cocktails at an outdoor festival, you run into an executive from the company where you work and his wife.
- A client you’ve been trying to impress for months catches you on the street acting like a goofball with your kids.
Some variation of each has happened to me, some of them several times. I’m guessing you can think of several of your own examples.
Like the man in the video, the thing to reflect on isn’t what happened but how you reacted to it. Did you panic? Try to avoid the situation? Pretend it wasn’t happening?
If so, you may be crafting a professional image that’s removed from what you might describe as your most authentic self. Maintaining these separate worlds is exhausting and a recipe for unhappiness. At the very least, this is probably a signal that you should to ponder some important questions.
- Why did I react that way?
- What was I afraid they might discover?
- What would have been the consequence if they did?
- How would I like to feel in these situations in the future?
Taking the journey to authenticity is first about self-awareness and self-acceptance. When you have done the foundational work to intimately know the good, bad, and ugly about who you are and then learn to embrace it, something amazing happens.
The fear of discovery or the shattering of illusions disappears. So when your 3 year old with a loads of swagger busts in on your big moment, instead of pretending it’s not happening, you can turn around, smile, and brazenly share this part of you