“Peter,” the email from a reader started, “Re the Masterclass video – old jeans with a hole in the knee? What are we trying to say here?”
He was referring to a video I posted describing our first-ever product, a masterclass I created to help people develop each of the four elements of Emotional Courage – Confidence in Yourself, Connection to Others, Commitment to Purpose, and Emotional Courage.
The truth is that I tried to shoot that video at least 10 times – dressed nicely and looking sharp – getting the words just right. But I couldn’t get the words just right. In fact, the more I tried, the less right the words felt.
Finally, I gave up, got comfortable (in my only other pair of quarantine pants, the ones you see in the video with the holes in the knee), and hung out with my daughter, Sophia. Then, on a whim, I handed her my phone, told her to record, and we wrapped it in one take.
The combination of being comfortable and feeling connected with Sophia, left me feeling less stiff, more real, more human. I stopped trying. I stopped performing. It’s one of the upsides of this sheltering at home thing – more people are showing up more fully as themselves, and I, for one, am loving that. Children in the background of a Zoom call used to be unprofessional. Now it’s simply life.
Meanwhile, I think the reader’s question is legitimate. “What are we trying to say here?” What’s the brand? How do I want to be seen?
The more I thought about it the more I loved being in my ripped jeans. Not because it projected any “right” image, but because it’s real. I want to close any gap between who I am and how I’m perceived. No airs. No pretend.
It won’t appeal to everyone and it may not be the “right” brand image.
But here’s what it will do – and this is profoundly important: it will eliminate any pressure to show up the way I think people want me to show up.
And the moment that happens, I’m free. Free to be brave, to share what I think is true even if others don’t always love it. And that gives me tremendous power to have an impact.
That day, for whatever reason, I could not get that video right – true and authentic – until I was in my hole-y jeans. It’s not about the jeans, of course. I’ve spoken authentically in a nice suit many times.
But it is about vulnerability – showing up real and being enough – in all my imperfection.
Can you trust that you are enough? Will you go out in public as you are, with clear intentions, a full heart, and holes in your jeans?
I can’t wait to meet you there.
Peter Bregman helps CEOs and their leadership teams break down silos and tackle their most important priorities together. He teaches courageous leadership in an annual Leadership Week
. He is the author, most recently, of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done
, a Wall Street Journal
best seller, winner of the Gold Medal from the Axiom Business Book awards, named the best business book of the year on NPR, and selected by Publisher's Weekly
and the New York Post
as a top 10 business book. He is also the author of Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change
and co-author of five other books. Featured on PBS, ABC and CNN, Peter is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes
, National Public Radio (NPR), Psychology Today
, and CNN as well as a weekly commentator on Fox Business News. Get notified when he writes a new article
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