Do you see the person or the persona?
Robin Williams’ suicide really touched me in a place deep down in my soul. I realize the depth to which I can, occasionally, put on a mask. I use my experience to help others through their business challenges. But, often, I’ll mask it up when it comes to my personal life. I posted last week about being single and I got a Facebook message from a colleague which read “You know. I can’t help myself from micromanaging… so may I suggest you keep your personal stuff off of your WWC FB page? The “Single. And learning…” feels too personal to show your professionalism.” In other words, dear coach, wear your mask.
Robin Williams wore his mask well. It wasn’t until his re-entry into rehab to “maintain his sobriety” came to the forefront that anyone had an inkling there was something going on behind the scenes. Still, the statement of maintaining sobriety thinly veiled that Robin was seeking help outside himself in a safe place. The media made that unsafe.
Actors rely on their persona. Often, in the process, the inner person gets ignored. Dustin Diamond recently came to Reno to perform. His “person” has been eviscerated in the media for the actions of his “persona.” Finding out a bit about the real person, thanks to a friend of mine, I find out that he’s happily married and good natured about people seeing him through their own lenses.
But where is the line? I find that actors aren’t the only people being judged by the characters they portray. We, as wives, mothers, husbands, fathers, friends, leaders, and professionals, may do the same. We may not have characters, but we have assigned roles and expectations we strive to live up to. Think about how you approach the people in your life. Even in your private life, do you assign a persona to your doctor, your teacher, your lawyer, your spouse? Do you ever spend time with a person and get real for a moment? If you do, you may be surprised by what you find out.
Today’s Exercise: See the person inside the personas you meet. Find out one new, non-professional, thing about the people in your immediate circle. What did you discover? Were you able to help someone you didn’t know needed it?