Four years ago, when I was launching my brand, a close friend and mentor (who was at the time and remains today a very successful businessman) advised me to never talk or refer to spirituality. Why? Because he said it would limit my audience by alienating the many who didn’t align with my views.
While I truly value mentorship. Hard headed me didn’t listen and talked about my faith, at will.
Guess what happened? My mentor was right. Alienation came. So did ridicule and criticism. Several incidents happened that I couldn’t believe:
- Once, while walking off stage after a presentation (in it I referred to spirituality), an audience member handed me a note stating “I was going to hire you to speak for our organization until you referenced Christianity, bad move.”
- Another came after I wrote a blog post about God. I was bombarded with negative comments, hate emails, and then my site was hacked.
- The most shocking incident happened to me on the set of a talk show in LA after referencing Jesus on tape. During the following break, a producer walked up to me and whispered in my ear “please refrain from those religious comments.”
My mentor told me all of this would happen and it did. I went on to think I’m going to lose potential business, partners, and opportunity. So in fear, I stopped. For the next year, I didn’t say, write, or mention anything connected with my faith, publicly.
Then, one day last year, something really great happened to me and I was trying to figure out a way to express my joy. Without hesitation, I swiped my iPhone on, opened twitter and simply tweeted “God is good!” The second I hit the send button, I closed my phone and went on about my business. Later that afternoon, I jumped on my laptop and saw that my earlier tweet was retweeted over ONE THOUSAND times (ten times the amount of anything I had ever tweeted up until that point).
Crazy as it may sound, the strong support of that single tweet made me reevaluate how I was living life (and managing my brand). It made me acutely aware I was not alone in my beliefs or willingness to express them. That single tweet illustrated to me the importance of not just knowing my truth but communicating it.
When I reflect on this story I realize in the year I remained silent, I was living inauthentically. I wasn’t being true or honoring who I was. As a result, I had limited growth professional and personally. Those times were also marked which low satisfaction and high frustration. More importantly, living that way made it impossible for me to fulfill my life’s purpose because I was muting my authentic voice.
“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” – Eckhart Tolle
The lesson is clear, once you recognize your truth, don’t mute it, don’t hide it away or try to avoid it. Admit, own and share your true thoughts, feelings, desires, insecurities, passions, embarrassment, and dreams. OWN IT!!! Being open and real about all of these things is what it means to be authentic in life. This is truly what “keepin’ it real” means!
So in hindsight, my mentor was on point (sort of)! Talking about my true self does alienate people. However, what he didn’t mention was that talking about my true self also makes my work, relationships, and life much more meaningful and fulfilling.
Are you living as your authentic self?