15 Nov Who are you when no one’s looking?
Several years ago I read a book that greatly impacted me called “Who You Are When No One’s Looking” by Bill Hybels. In the book, Bill talks about our integrity, our character; being defined by what you and I do when no one is looking. That book really hit me like a ton of bricks, because while I mostly made good choices, sometimes when I was frustrated or grouchy, the way I spoke to my husband or to my kids was NOT what I would want to define me. This “new to me” idea helped me understand that who I am in private is FAR more important than who I was in front of friends or neighbors, and that was made up of a series of decisions of who I would choose to be. Who was I? Really? Who was I when no one was around to praise me when I did something positive, or draw negative conclusions because I didn’t hold my tongue when I was annoyed? It really caused me to dig deep and to be more intentional about who I CHOSE to be, both privately and publicly. But it also revealed something in my heart that needed my attention: I wanted to be a person of character and that meant I needed to become more disciplined in some of the areas I’d not worked on within me. I knew that as I was becoming a leader it meant the stakes were going to be higher for me; if I wanted to lead others, I first needed to lead myself. I began thinking “If my friends from church or co-workers were in the room, would I say this or that?” It really helped me rein in my responses, and mostly my attitude that had gone unchecked.
This week I tuned in to an online training that someone was hosting; impromptu and unscripted. It was open to the public, and as it came on my radar, I tuned in out of curiosity. I was stunned. I was both embarrassed and shocked to hear the speaker being openly rude to her husband in front of her audience! I don’t know the circumstances that led up to that point, but she was clearly exasperated and snapped at him in front of the people she was ironically talking to about leadership. I quickly exited, as the audience was attempting to make jokes and defend him while she pressed on about his error in judgement. CRINGE. I kept trying to put a finger on why exactly I was so put off. First of all, I felt embarrassed. For her, for him, for the other audience members. I know that the new thought in leadership is “be transparent – even with all of your faults and failings” in the name of authenticity. This was plain uncomfortable, unprofessional, and …. sad. I felt sad. For her, for him, for the other audience members. This wasn’t about judging her, it was about using sound judgement in discerning whom you choose to follow, and what you show as a leader, and then I thought, “If this is how it is in front of an audience, what is it like when the audience is gone?” I felt awkward, and again those seven little words drifted across my mind “who are you when no one’s looking?” Because when who you are when no one’s looking goes unchecked, it spills out uncomfortably when they ARE.
Everyone teaches us; either in ways we want to be, or how we don’t want to be. We’ve all been guilty of acting in a way that is not kind or patient. The lesson is this: who do I want to be when no one’s looking? What do I want to be known for by my family? They are the ones closest to me, and who deserve my best. Every day I pray and ask God to help me as I work to be the person I truly want to become, so that I love well the people that I’m blessed to call family. That starts with who I am when no one is looking, then who I am when it’s just my husband and kids, then who I am when I’m standing in a crowd, or on a stage. I’ve been intentional for now nearly 25 years, to ensure that I am the same person with those closest to me that I am with those who know me publicly, as far as my character goes. This week was a good reminder that who I choose to be in private eventually spills out when I’m in public, and I want to purposefully choose to honor & respect those closest to me in heart, word, and deed. Don’t you?
Be relentless. In pursuit of excellence.