Cut the bullshit! Be Authentic
1st Jan 201717m26s
- Cut the bullshit and be authentic. What do I mean by being authentic? I mean to say what you really think in every moment in every situation without worrying about the consequences, without worrying about what other people think of you. Now I'm not like that and I'll wager that you and most people you know aren't like that either. And I don't know anyone who's really like that, who's really authentic all the time. We're constantly massaging the things we say out of fear of offending somebody, out of fear of other people thinking less of us. So we never really say what we really think. The only time we really do that is when we feel completely comfortable, when we feel we're not gonna be judged, when we feel like we can be our most honest, down-to-earth, vulnerable selves. And that's with the people that we feel really care about us, right? 'Cause if you know that someone isn't going to judge you no matter what you say, then you'll more likely to say what you really think, and that's why you can have those deep, you could almost say controversial conversations, with people like that, with the people who are really close to you, who really care about you. With everybody else, with strangers, we have to follow protocol, social protocol. To give you an example, right, I had a friend invite a whole bunch of us to a party, house party a while ago. Now this is through email and so you could see everyone's reply for the most part. And a lot of people said, yeah, I can make it, I'll come, and some people said, I can't come, I'm busy that night. Now whenever I see someone say I'm busy, I can't make it, I know in my mind and I'm sure most people know that they might not actually be busy, it might actually be something else that they just don't feel like coming, maybe they're just feeling lazy, maybe they wanna go home and play computer games, or maybe they just don't like the person who's setting up the party, or maybe they don't like someone else who's attending the party. We don't really know. But people say I'm busy because it sort of avoids any complications that may arise from saying what they really think. Most of all it allows them to manage their social reputation. There's no penalty for saying that. The only time you'd face a penalty for saying something like that is if you'd agreed and you'd explicitly stated beforehand that you're definitely gonna come and then suddenly changed your mind at the last minute, right? If it's just a fresh invite, if you just say, oh, I'm busy that night, then for the most part people aren't gonna ask you what are you busy with? Maybe if it's your really close friend, they'll ask you, but the other people won't and they'll just take it as granted, okay, yeah, this person's busy, they can't make it, fine. But the problem with that is and I mean the problem with saying that you're just busy is you're not really telling the truth. You're not really being authentic. And it's out of fear, it's out of fear of what people will think of you or what certain people might think of you if you really say what you think. I mean I didn't wanna go to that party and my initial instinct was to just say I'm busy, but in the end I decided as an experiment just to say what I really thought, and I said, you know what, I'm not busy, but I just don't feel like coming to this party, I just don't feel like going to the party, I just wanna stay in tonight. And it's the kind of thing when people listen to that and go, that's lame, what do you mean you wanna stay in? Don't you wanna come out, hang out with everyone and have fun? And my answer to that question we know I actually didn't want to do that that night. I wanted to just be by myself 'cause sometimes that's what I want, and maybe it's lame in their minds, but if that's what I want, then that's what I want. I'm not hurting anybody, what's wrong with that? And I realized in my mind as I was writing this down that the only thing that was making it difficult for me to write something like that is the thought of what other people will think of me for saying that in the first place. And then it occurred to me that that's why we are not authentic for the most part is because we constantly are concerned with what people will think of us, because what people think of us determines our social mobility, determines our career mobility, and such and such, right? In other words we rely on the good opinion of others in order to get ahead in our lives, in order to have a happy life. And so we wanna manage what they think of us as much as possible. Chris Rock, the comedian, he once said, I think it was in a sketch or something, he said, "When you meet someone in America, "you're not meeting them, "you're meeting their agent," right? In other words when you somebody, you're actually meeting someone who's also managing the appearance they put across to you, who's also trying to manage the image that you're forming in your mind of who you think they are, right? A pick-up artist, when they wanna go chat up a woman, right, they want her to be interested in them so they can sleep with her or whatever it is so they try and manage the image that forms in their mind of who she thinks they are, right, by words, through actions. It's a sort of game, it's a sort of manipulation, and we're all doing this all the time. And when people say to you, well, that's a smart thing to do, you live in a world which is competitive, you should be managing what people think of you. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie, classic book, right? I mean it's all about that. It's all about getting people on your side through doing things a certain way even if you're not naturally inclined to do those things like that. Copy what other people have done to get ahead and do that, and that's how you'll also get the same results. And I agree for the most part that works. The problem is of course is, if that's not naturally who you are, then you're not being your true self. Now maybe you think, well, if I'm just gonna be my true self, then I'm not gonna get anywhere in life. And I used to think that in certain parts of my life. I was really shy, I was really bad at dating, going and asking girls out. So I started reading up, I started talking to guys, watching other guys, and I started pushing myself. And initially it was really weird because I realized I'm doing things that I'm not naturally inclined to do or talking in ways or making a more assertive move in a way I normally wouldn't, but it was getting me the results. And then over time what happened was I became that guy. Doing those things over and over again, I actually became the guy who could naturally do those things. And I can do them a lot easier now. But even to this day if I'm really honest, I know that it's not fundamentally who I am still, right, as in I still have to think about it a little bit. And I think that's the case with most people. So putting that in one side and then thinking about authenticity, I realized that I started asking myself is there a way in which I can achieve the results I want but by being myself, and there is if I develop myself into the person I wanna be, which in a way is what this was, right? When I'm out there practicing different ways of chatting to girls, asking them out and being assertive, I'm in effect training my mind, retraining my mind in new ways, I'm changing who I am. But that's approaching it from a surface level. You wanna approach it from underneath as well which is fundamentally becoming the person who can do these things more naturally. So it's like a two-pronged approach. And the great thing about that approach is it allows you to be authentic. So I should go to the gym, I should work on myself, right? I should get myself a great job, I should try and maximize my income, I should go and travel, I should try new things. I should become this person who is just open to life and trying so many different things in life, and in doing so I discover what I'm actually capable of. I think, oh, I didn't know I could do that, but now I just did it and now I know I can do it. So skydiving was one thing for me for example, or rock climbing, rock climbing is a, I love rock climbing and the thing I love about it is there are so many times where you're on a route and you have to do a move and you don't think you can make that move, it just feels like, oh, it's not possible, but in order to continue, you have to make that move, and sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, almost literal leap of faith sometimes, but sometimes you just have to just go for it, and you go for it and you stick it and then you realize, oh my God, I can't believe I was able to do that. And that's happened to me so many times in that, so many times in that. And doing that enabled me to advance to the next level. And so in a way it's not really that you've changed yourself, it's that you've discovered that you were capable of something that you previously didn't think you were capable of. And I think it's the same with authenticity. Yes, you wanna have that success, you wanna be like that person who's naturally able to do that, and you could mimic that person and do what they're doing, but you're not really yet being authentic. You wanna develop the inner qualities which also get you to being that more naturally. So you need the outside as well. You need to have a starting point, right? So what I mean is going back to the example of chatting to girls, you see the confident guy the way he goes up, he's talking to girls, the body language he has, and you start mimicking it, right, just to sort of get you going. But you still have to develop yourself as a person. And because over time you become very, very good at mimicking, but it just doesn't connect it on the inside. Now maybe you don't care about that, maybe you think, you know what, I just wanna get the results, I don't care about whether I'm becoming that person really, I just wanna get the results. And if that's what you want, then fine, you don't have to think about this. But over time as you keep getting the results, you can't help but notice that it's not really who you are, like you're being this person who isn't the real you. And you might argue, well, what is the real me anyway? If everyone is just copying and if everyone is just doing what they see other people are doing, and if the real you is just not able to do that, then does it really matter? And I would argue it does. I would argue it does. Because when it comes to long-term fulfillment in your life, you're only gonna get that if you have fulfilling meaningful things in your life especially your relationships. And you can't have fulfilling meaningful relationships if you can't be your most authentic self in your relationships. I mean the people who know you, do they know the real you? Are you able to say what you really think to them? Because to say what you really think to someone without worrying about what they think of you requires courage, right? In other words you need to be strong and you need to be comfortable with who you are. And if you've been doing this thing where you're mimicking people to get a certain result but it's not who you really are, then you're not really comfortable with who you are, 'cause if you are, you'd just be yourself, right? So you wanna get comfortable with who you are means you have to develop yourself from the inside as well as learning the skills on the outside. And when you start to do this, what you quickly realize is this is awesome. You realize that you feel I just wanna be this way in every area of my life. And then you start to question how you're being inauthentic in even the smallest things. And for me one of the things is people wish you good morning. I walk into the office and a person who doesn't know me say, hey, good morning. I would say, hey, good morning. Now that's fine. Now some people go beyond that. They say, hey, good morning, how's your weekend? And whenever I hear this question, about six times out of 10 I'd say, or even more than that, I know that that person doesn't really care about my weekend, it's just a nice thing that people ask, it's almost protocol. And this is the reason that I don't ask people that question. I'm not gonna ask someone that question unless I actually want to know how their weekend was and I actually feel happy to ask. So that's why I say a few times out of 10, the person asking me actually cares and you can tell from the tone of their voice, from their body language, you can just tell from the whole vibe whether they're actually interested and it's something that they're asking out of happiness. And you can also tell when they're just asking 'cause it's protocol, you can just tell from the way it's asked. So whenever people ask me in that way where I know they don't really care about the answer, I just say, yeah, it's fine, because I wanna end the conversation then and there, because for me it's not an authentic conversation. One time someone asked me, I decided to just sort of flip it around and I started going into massive detail about what I did. I said, oh, it was awesome, I did this, this, this, this, that. And I could just tell that they were just slowly shutting down the conversation because they weren't expecting that, they just wanted me to give them a few words, right? They came in with an intention to say something as protocol but also with an expectation of not getting more than they wanted to handle. And I just blew their expectations by just giving them what I wanted to give them, right? So I could see them shutting down and I felt pretty good about myself. I felt, well, hey, you asked me the question so I'm gonna give you the answer. And that just kinda reminded me, it's sort of reinforced in my mind that situation that that's why it's important to be authentic. If I say something to someone, if I say to my partner I love you, I should mean it. I shouldn't just say those words because that's what people say when they're with their partners. No, if I don't mean it, then I'm fairly sure at least even if not initially, after some time my partner will be able to sense that this isn't real. What he's saying to me isn't real. It's not what he really thinks. But if you're authentic, then you never have to worry about that happening. The other reason, the other reason, great reason to be authentic is, and this is probably the biggest thing of all of it is you don't have to lie to yourself. I mean if you're pretending with other people, you're telling little fibs, little lies here and there, oh I'm too busy to come to your party, or hey, how's your weekend even though you don't really care in your mind, you're actually lying to yourself. I mean, yeah, you could argue you're lying to other people, and we all say don't lie to other people, don't lie, but lying to yourself is the worst of all lies, right? Because then you're letting yourself down. You're not reaching your full potential. Why? Why aren't you doing that? Because when you lie to yourself, it's as if you're not acknowledging what you really feel. If you can't even say outwards to another person, hey, this is what I really feel, at what point are you saying in your mind, to your self? Are you even gonna say it? When people ask you, hey, how's the job going? And most people just say, oh, it's fine, yeah, it's fine. I mean is it really? Are most people just fine? Is everything just going really great? I don't think so. I mean I've got bad days ups and downs all the time and I'm sure that's the same for most people. So why don't people just say that? Why don't people just say, oh, I'm having ups and downs this week? Why doesn't someone say to me, yeah, it's alright, but nah, this week's been pretty shitty actually. But people don't say that. It's almost like people feel, oh, we mustn't bring that into conversation 'cause that affects how this person sees me. But that's the thing, why don't you just bring it in and be authentic? And then when you tell somebody else, maybe that person can relate to your experience, and then they can say something to you that might even help you improve it. And then you can reflect upon that yourself and go, yeah, you know what? Actually it is pretty shitty. Man, I should change, I should change my job, do something about this 'Cause you're not lying to yourself, you're being truthful to other person, you're being truthful to yourself, you're completely in alignment. And the great thing is the other person as they get to know you as this authentic human being, they can trust what you're saying. They know if they ask you a question or they ask you for an opinion, they're gonna get the right opinion from you. The last thing following on that point I wanna say about it is it's great to be authentic, it's even better to understand how the things you say affect other people. Now I've gotta be careful here because I've been talking so far about saying things without worrying about what people think of you. At the same time let me give you a concrete example. Let's say your girlfriend asks you, do I look fat in this? Do you say, yeah, you do look fat in that, right? Or let me think of it, actually let me think of a better one. She says do you think I'm fat? That's the one, do you think I'm fat? So two ways you can say, you can say, yeah, I think you're fat, I think you're really fat, or you say I think you need to lose weight, yeah. Now if you say to her I think you're really fat, God, you're so fat, then you're basically putting her down. If you say to her I think yeah, I think you look a bit fat but I think you could lose it and you'd look better, then you're not being nasty to her, right? You're still saying the same thing and she might still interpret that, then not feel so good, but you're being honest, you're being honest if that's what you really think by the way, you're being honest without being nasty. There's something I picked up from sort of a weekend retreat I did years ago with the Chinmaya Mission, and the Swami was saying you should always be honest with people, tell them the truth, but the way you tell the truth, it has to be said in a loving way so as not to hurt people, but you should tell the truth. And I liked that, I liked that idea that you should be brutally honest, and at the same time think about the space you're coming from as you're being honest, as in why am I saying this to this person? Why am I giving them this answer? What do I want for this person? If you want the worst for that person, you don't like that person, then the way you say something to them is gonna reflect that. So if you find yourself being mean to somebody, then it's good to ask yourself, why am I being mean to this person? What am I getting out of it? Is it an ego trip? Is it just I just don't like them? Is it 'cause I want to hurt them? And when you become authentic and you start saying what you really think, it becomes easier to get that wrong, easier to get that wrong, because when you're authentic, then you are in no doubt at some point gonna say something to someone that they're not gonna wanna hear. That's just how it is, that's just how it is, right? And people don't like that. People don't like that because most people aren't authentic. So you're gonna stand out in the crowd, you're gonna stand out in the crowd. So as best as you can, you have to be aware of how you say things, but of course the fundamental principle of saying what you really think, that must never be violated no matter what you do.