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Are You Boring?

Gertrude SteinGertrude Stein via last.fm

Gertrude Stein claimed, "No one real is boring." She's right. The most interesting people I know are the ones who are genuinely who they are -- no phoniness, no pretense, no trying to impress. They're congruent.

Think of someone you know like that. They're true to who they are, unwilling to compromise their integrity and self-respect in order to satisfy the expectations of others or win their approval. You can count on them to say what they mean and do what they say.

Being real -- congruent -- is especially critical if you're in a leadership role. Not everyone may like your personality or agree with your decisions, but by golly, if you're authentic, they'll admit they like the fact that:

  • you'll be straight with them,
  • they'll know where you stand, and
  • you'll stay true to your convictions.

Impressing others isn't important to you; being true to yourself is.

Rosa Parks' intentions and words and actions were congruent on that December evening in 1955 when she was returning home on the bus at the end of a long workday. "I was sitting in the front seat of the colored section," as she tells it, "and the white people were sitting in the white section. More white people got on, and they filled up all the seats in the white section. When that happened, we black people were supposed to give up our seats to the whites. But I didn't move. The white driver said, 'Let me have those seats.' I didn't get up." Her one act of congruence became a defining moment in American history and made her a role model for the civil rights movement.

As leaders, if we suppress our authenticity we lose touch with the very source of our vitality and initiative.

  • We lack courage.
  • We lose hope.
  • We take ourselves too seriously.
  • We resist taking things on faith.
  • And thus, everyone loses.

Want to be more real? Ponder:

  • What triggers your desire to diminish or inflate your self-worth, to be something you're not?
  • When and with whom are you completely yourself? Why only them?
  • What would be the benefits of stepping fully into your authentic self and bringing your unique gifts into the world of work and home?

Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) said, "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ...and because, as Gertrude Stein says, you'll never be boring!

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I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, Shirley. Be authentic from your heart as a leader. Thanks for an insightful column.

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