Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Are You You (Or Who 'They' Want You To Be)?

I chose the head shot below for this blog mostly because my wife likes it.

But it makes a point too:

Here's the point...

The vast majority of people who know me laugh out loud when they see this photo. Mostly because they have never seen me wearing a suit. My day to day uniform tends to be a T-shirt and jeans.

But there are others who have never seen me any other way. Most notably, a consulting client in Oklahoma. This company's dress code is business wear and they require the same for their outside vendors. I have been honored to work with them for two years now and those folks have never seen me NOT wearing a suit.

So, which is the real me?

The guy in the pressed Nordstrom Traveler's Edition suit or the guy in the $6.99 T-shirt from Target worn over Levi's?

Same cat, different clothes.

We can wear our self like a change of clothes if we're not careful.

What's important for you is that you figure out who you are - who you are made to be - and be that person.

Who are you?

In many ways, it's the ultimate question.

Don't be an exaggerated or veiled version of you just to suit someone else.

Others expect stuff of you that they have no right to expect.

Disappoint them. On purpose.

A chunk of my career has been leading faith-based organizations, often as a church pastor.

And, man, you talk about a career path where people expect a person to be a certain way.

Give a guy or a girl a clerical collar or a microphone or a ministerial parking space at the hospital...and watch the expectations bloom.

I've always made a point of saying stuff like this to the folks I have been privileged to serve:

"I may be a 'professional religious person', but I am no different than you. I'm surely not a better person than you are. My job is no more or less important than that of a teacher, an insurance agent, a carpenter, a homemaker, or a corporate executive. Contrary to popular myth and a misinterpretation of James 3:1, I should not be either more honored or judged more harshly than you".

I've had the chance to operate professionally in a lot of different spheres, and each one comes with its own set of expectations.

The trick is to find YOUR true North, the person you were made to be, and act and live that way.

It doesn't mean you shirk your obligations or live a life that is all about self, but it does mean you refuse to color in the lines if you don't want to and if to do so is not true.

Resist every pressure from 'them'; purpose to be who you were made to be, not what 'they' (whomever 'they' are in your world) expect you to be. This includes parents, priests, bosses, even spouses and kids.

At the end of Shakespeare's King Lear, when the stage is littered with bloody corpses and all hope seems lost, Edgar says this:

'The weight of these sad times we must obey/
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say'

Hopefully, your life is more seashells, balloons, and ice cream than a stage full of bloody corpses.

Likely, it's somewhere in the middle.

Whichever it is, be you in the ins and outs, ups and downs of it. Find your voice and speak with it. 

Passionately and intentionally.

The rest of us need you to be you.

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