"As an actor, we spend so much time putting the mask on and trying to be someone you're not" - Russell Hornsby
I must admit that Halloween is my favorite holiday! My boys have a blast picking out costumes and accessorizing as if they are going to the prom. I think it's the only time that they ever care how they are dressed! I have a chocolate addiction, so I love snatching all the good stuff when they aren't looking. There's plenty to go around! Kids love fantasizing and pretending that they are someone else- even if it's just for the night. By the looks of it, there are a lot of adults that never quite outgrow their love of pretend either...You know who you are!
Halloween has to be the most creative holiday of all. Some people really go nuts with the lights and decorations - all for one night. Others relish trying to scare the wits out of kids. Moreover, it amazes me how creative and zany people become in decorating their pumpkins. Some of them are literally works of art. It's obvious that a lot of time and planning went into what seems to me is an impossible feat! I usually end up "over" carving my pumpkin faces and they cave within 2 days! I can grow them - I just can't carve or cook them. Some pumpkins depict flamboyant faces while others come to life with realistic scenery's that tell a story. Incredible!
The tradition of pumpkin carving goes way back to Europe in the Middle Ages. People carried around gourds with candles in them with the belief that evil spirits would be scared away. When our ancestors landed here, there was a lack of gourds so pumpkins were used instead. Pumpkins are squashes from the Cucurbita family which are native to North America. Technically they are fruits that love warmer weather. Most people plant the seeds in June when summer is heating up. Pumpkins love rich well drained soil and a lot of sun. They refuse to grow until the air temps are 65 degrees or higher. Plant the seeds in hills with plenty of room for them to grow. Pumpkin vines will quickly take over your yard so beware! There are over 82 varieties of pumpkins in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Pumpkins come in red, green, white, pink, striped, and even blue! As people have become more accepting, these unusual colors can be picked up at markets Wikipedia
Fantasizing and pretending is what Halloween is all about. Masks, pumpkins, candy, and cavities. What more could a kid want? When Halloween is over though... we need to set aside the masks and pumpkin faces and show our "real" face. I ask you this - Are you masking yourself ? Are you pretending to be someone you're not?
Beware! Wearing a "leadership" mask can be detrimental to yourself and those around you!
I don't know about you, but I have worked with a lot of people who wear masks. They feel that the only way to get ahead or fit in is to be someone that they aren't. They try to act and react according to how they think others want them to. They mimic their boss and take on his mannerisms. Suddenly, they turn into a "Mini Me". They often have an air about them that is fake or they act like they are on a stage. Do you know someone like this?? Is it you?
In my first "real" job out of college I joined a management training program. There were 11 of us and we rotated in different areas of the company to gain exposure and experience. We formed some strong friendships and frequently hung out together after work. As time went on, some of the people in our group changed. They became more aloof and acted like they were "better" than us. They hung out with people that they felt could further their careers. They had changed and acted like the herd that they had joined to get ahead. What infuriated us the most was that they were promoted faster. The fake face and persona that they had adapted rewarded them in kind. Have you been in the same boat? It doesn't sit well when "fake" people move ahead for their own gain while relationships suffer.
People take on a false facade for a variety of reasons. For some, it's a way to hide their flaws and weaknesses. For others, it's a lack of self confidence. Some people are promoted and don't feel that they "deserve" it so they lead with a false pretense. Fear, insecurity, a lack of self worth, and lack of trust force people to act in ways that aren't true to who they really are. They put on "airs", they act like the boss because they can't be themselves, they aren't good at showing feelings so they mask them. When you hide who you are, it causes internal conflict. You may have trouble connecting or being honest with people. People who don't think that they are deserving won't develop into strong leaders. They are so busy trying to prove themselves (internally and externally) or pretending, that they fail to break through.
To lead you must be authentic and have a sincere interest in helping others. You should be passionate about making a difference and not hide behind any doubts or internal struggles. You need to address these key areas if you are going to throw the mask off and lead:
Insecurity : Shed any thoughts of not being good enough or that you aren't deserving. You have the skills and drive to make a difference. Don't allow yourself to feel powerless or helpless. Write down all your strengths or ask those that you trust what they think. Acknowledge your strengths and build on them every day. Tell yourself that you are a strong and deserving leader. You become what you think. Knock those negative thoughts out of your head.
Fear: Don't fixate on saying or doing the "right" things. Everyone makes errors and YOU are the only one who will really ever notice. If you avoid mistakes, you will never learn or grow. You will lose your "influence". Embrace dealing with difficult situations or conflicts with people. Face your fears head on. They won't unmask until you do. No one is perfect.
- Lack of trust: You need to learn to trust yourself and others. Don't hide from leaning on others. We are social beings and need each other. People love being asked for help or support. Do it until it feels natural. Give back your trust as well in your people. Great leaders MUST trust. You need to have faith in other's talents, abilities, and gifts.
You will lose out as an effective leader if you don't look beneath your mask and unleash your fears, address your lack of self confidence, and learn to trust . Companies are finally recognizing the value of "soft skills" Clomedia.com
and it's more vital than ever that you develop authentic and unmasked leadership skills. If you don't - BOO! It will catch up to you! Are you prepared?