It’s not too late to tell your customers you don’t understand everything yet; that you don’t have all the answers. To apologise when you make a mistake. To be willing to let them walk away, recommend them to someone you think will help them better.
It’s not too late to admit to your lover that you’re not the answer to their loneliness and that you can’t be there every time they’re down. That you have bad habits and that you WILL get angry with them if they act in a way that you feel disrespected or unloved.
Not too late to admit to your children that you don’t understand what it means to be a mom (or dad). That you have always felt like you will never be as good of a parent as your own mom or dad. That this parenthood thing came too suddenly and like most things in life, without a manual.
Vulnerability is difficult precisely because of the consequences it brings. If you tell your customers you’re not really perfect yet, they’ll leave for another person who WILL tell them that they’re perfect enough to serve them. If your lovers sees you for the human you are, the fantasy is gone and you risk losing your life mate.
But vulnerability is also a gift
I sat in a room full of strangers before a talk. All I could of was how nervous I was. I looked around and everyone around me looked so confident. I remembered some wise person say, ‘The best way to connect with people is to be vulnerable.’
So I tried it.
‘I’m feeling so nervous I could vomit right now,’ I blurted.
Faces around me instantly softened into smiles.
‘OMG. ME TOO.’
‘YOU TOO?! ME TOO!’
We were inseparable that night and became friends.
This is what I think
When we hide what we think is too ugly for other people to see, we also hide a big part of us which is human. Humans are imperfect and when you show people the human that you are, they can let themselves loose, get comfortable, be human too.
I think that’s the best way to make friends.
The worst way to make friends,
I found, is to try to impress your way into their lives. You tell them that you’re rich, smart and influential, thinking that if you’ve checked ALL the criteria of a perfect human, you’ll be popular.
I tried this. It never works.
This isn’t high school and real friends don’t care whether you’re rich, smart or influential. They care if you care about them.
Experts don’t recommend showing weakness
‘Be confident’, ‘Highlight your strengths’. Nobody tells you to show the ‘real you’. You are asked instead to 1) hide some parts of you that are ugly, 2) polish the rough edges around your better skills
But what would you rather?
Would you rather 1) build a persona that guaranteed to kill you slowly inside (like a poison fed daily in small doses) knowing that you’re part plastic, part human or 2) build a life so genuine people will trust you with anything and you can freely and openly tell them what your limitations are like
I pick 2 because I think it’s what will make me happiest, build the most meaningful relationships who I can have the most meaningful experiences with.
I’m not saying that I’ll go around without taking a shower or combing my hair or trying to get better at public speaking (I’ll still do all these).
What I’m saying is that we should just all stop pretending like we know everything, can solve any problem or is more famous, rich or popular than we really are to impress people who are equally scared about looking bad in front of us.
So here’s what I want to admit today
I’m not good at most of the things I want to be good at. I tried to believe that I was good at content marketing (I’m not), email marketing, making friends with strangers, public speaking, making millions of dollars, user acquisition… but I want to say today that I’m not good at all of these things.
But I am really good at:
– comforting people when they’re really down in the dumps
– making people feel energised about their dreams and showing them a way to get there
– making sense of things I read and explaining them to people I know (but don’t read books)
– recognising interests and helping people develop skills within their interests
– making people feel comfortable about their skills and quirks
These things feel natural to me. I decided to focus on them and stop pretending to be good at everything.
I want to tell people about the things I’m good at and the things I’m horrible at, to show people the ugly side of success and the wonderful and beautiful side of success, to show them the bad days and the good.
This is what makes humans humans.
I want to be human.