Being real doesn’t have a dictionary definition as much as a personal one, but “being real” is a phrase that pretty much everyone I've spoken to resonates with. And interestingly, their sense of what it means is usually identical to, or at least compatible with, mine. I love to share my values, and even more, I love to share how to apply those values to real life. Today I want to talk about being real on the practical level.
Being real is about embracing the power of telling the truth and embracing the power of not being afraid to communicate who you are, what you value and believe, and what you hope to experience. Because of this, an important part of being real is freeing yourself from the obligation to need everyone you meet to like or love you. This is an impossible need to satisfy, and it is at the heart of many of the things we do that conflict with being honest and real.
Still, this can sound like a frightening tradeoff until you take inventory for yourself. Take some time and think about it: how much positive value have you received from saying things for effect, versus saying what is deeply true, or dwelling on the superficial level of relationships that have no deeper affinity or potential. Still feel like it’s worth it? Now consider the downside of being less than real. Unless you’re real, you’re not connecting to the world. Consider the moments when you have taken stock and felt that too many of your relationships and interactions were empty or unrewarding. Moments where you felt alienated, or that there weren’t enough people who really understood you. On and on. No matter what it seems like, when you calculate the net value, it’s always better to be real.
All growth comes from the courage to communicate your real thoughts and ideas and to embrace great conversations. Truly fulfilling relationships and experiences happen only when you are able to be present and active in them as your authentic self, acting and speaking in a way that presents you as you are in accord with your true values, beliefs and goals.
Practicing the honesty and integrity of being real ultimately brings joy and peace of mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s relaxing. It’s as demanding as it is rewarding. In fact, there is no more demanding filter on your communications than the desire to be honest and real. Being real requires not only brave and thoughtful reflection, sober assessments, and many big and small decisions, but constant vigilance in the moment, too! And that’s why it’s such an important value to develop a daily practice for.
Telling the truth in the way it takes to be real can be a challenging habit to build. Sometimes for personal reasons, sometimes because it’s easier to avoid the truth than to say it out loud and confront it, and sometimes because it’s just plan tricky, and requires careful thought and exploration of facts to even know what the truth of a situation is, much less the right way to express it.
As with everything, there are challenges and benefits to being real. The challenges of being real are in the smaller daily and situational scope. For those of us active in business, practicing the value of being real requires extra effort. The personal, professional, or even legal stakes involved in some relationships and situations can be very high. This can place such restrictions on the types and style of communication that is appropriate or even possible that a collaborative process of getting to good answers is usually required just to make sense of things. We have to reconcile what is prudent or expedient in the short term, or in one aspect of our lives, with what is true and real and right for us in the overall scope of our lives.
The benefits of being real are found in the larger scope: The life we have, the people we develop mutual respect and friendships with, the peace of mind and strength that comes from the confidence of knowing that you’ve done what was right. These benefits help us focus through the work phase, the daily and hourly practice of staying constant with the habit of being real.
To practice being real, you will need to take stock of the situation from time to time and ask yourself some questions. One of the concepts we coach at the Comma Cub that helps with this is “Relationships and Opportunities.” With this concept we coach the power of working on both personal and business relationships and opportunities. We ask tough questions like:
What’s not working?
Should I continue trying to invest time, money and effort into this?
What ideas do we want to pursue?
Are our values in sync?
What relationships should I end?
To be real, you must know the fully considered answers to questions like these and how to act on them appropriately. We have discovered that clients who are willing to take inventory of their relationships with questions like these are the ones who start to embrace the power of telling the truth, and the power of not being afraid to communicate what they hope to experience, and who are able to reap the joy it brings to be in real relationships that are consistent and true to their highest values.
So start thinking of “being real” as a daily practice. Make the effort to use your decision-making mind to understand what the right thing to do is, and then act on your commitment to being real. Prepare yourself for this by thinking about the real relationships and experiences you have had in comparison to those that were arbitrary, mindless, or superficial. Embrace the power of being present as you authentically are, come what may. Only when I am willing to receive the consequences of my truths can I be present as my authentic self and speak those truths, and only then can I connect to others authentically and in a rewarding, fulfilling way. Sometimes it’s painful to be present, but it’s the only way to create great awareness and growth, and amazing relationships and opportunities, both personal and professional.