This morning I was working out at the gym and I saw a good friend of mine. We got to talking and eventually I was able to share that I am doing this 100 day workout challenge and how impacting it has been for my life. I actually shared how much I weighed and the results I had. The response was in essence, “Aww, you poor thing.” I felt as if my friend pitied me for my struggle.
That was not the response I was necessarily looking for. But I took home a valuable lesson. I felt a great sense of pride and confidence because I knew I was doing what is necessary to bring about real change in my life: being authentic. Authenticity is simply seeing things as they are.
In medicine, physicians evaluate and assess patients before they actually treat them. A mechanic cannot fix a car without understanding its problems. Any growth or effective change must be based on an authentic evaluation of the current condition. Improvement cannot happen without being honest about reality.
So whether one is trying to lose weight or generating a new business model, a good honest evaluation must be completed. This requires the courage to be vulnerable. There is a risk that people will see something for how it is, and no one wants their weaknesses to be exposed. It can feel like that awkward moment the first time you got undressed in front of others after gym class. Evaluation can bring light to dark areas or places where there might be shame or embarrassment.
For healing or improvement to begin, there must be a healthy foundation. You cannot build on a foundation that is cracked or broken. You cannot heal an infected wound by placing a band aid on it. Undressing weaknesses exposes our starting points for growth. There is wisdom in exposing the cracks in our life.
So what happens when you are vulnerable? Once in a while you get awkward comments from others who do not understand. They may not even be ill-intentioned, but it is inevitable to experience that uncomfortable feeling once in a while. When this happens, it just means that you will need to extend grace to others. Don’t let your momentum get deflated, but rather be strengthened for the journey. That tension is a sign that you are going in the right direction!
(Remember, being authentic is just as awkward for others as it is for you. People aren’t used to seeing the weaknesses of their peers displayed. But your willingness to be open will eventually be transforming for others so that they too can be free of barriers that keep them from exposing themselves for growth.)