Last night I was invited as a Guest Speaker for the launch of a company which prides itself on transparency. I was asked to speak about transparency and its importance, not just in our businesses and careers, but in our lives. Below are some of the discussion points.
Transparency is a funny word, especially when it comes to a state of being. "Be transparent" says the majority. However, as human beings, we don’t want to "be transparent" ! We want to be seen, heard and valued. We want to matter! But, at the same time, that’s scary too. It's exposing a lot, showing the things we don’t necessarily want to show such as our mistakes, our vulnerabilities, our fears. Even our hopes, our passions and dreams…
So to manage this in different areas of our lives, we put up a few walls – like in the area of our business and career - the walls can be extremely high, strong, iron clad even. Some are so well guarded they are almost surrounded by a mote full of crocodiles and fire breathing dragons! No one is getting in there! In other areas of our lives, like in relationships and friendships the walls are more like wooden windows closed shut with a few cracks and gaps in them. This allows some people on the outside to catch a glimpse of the treasure inside. Then, there are other areas of our lives where we have allowed a few lucky, brave fighters through our defenses into see the treasure lying inside. Some might call this treasure their hearts, some call it their values and some call it their 'true selves'. Let's call it, authenticity.
Much of my work focuses on transparency for the purpose of authenticity. How can I be transparent and be seen for who I really am and for what I truly represent? This question is one that transcends race, religion and time. But why is it so difficult to balance? Because as much as we desire to be of value and to be accepted for who we are, we also fear the risk of being irrelevant and unaccepted.
According to research done in Sydney in 2016, it was found that 52% of adults linked their own self-confidence to having a direct link with being able to act through the certainty of who they are. In other words, they would feel more confident in themselves if they knew how to show their uniqueness.
In another survey conducted among 8 to 18 year olds in the same time period, over 50% of children said they would like to “be themselves” more so that they can, in turn, make friends, be happier and have a more positive attitude towards their lives. This means, if they could figure out what their uniqueness and values are then it would impact the perceived quality of their lives.
So, transparency is not authenticity, nor is it a quality that we could ever aspire to be. It is a process of how we show ourselves in different areas of our lives. In fact, they go hand-in-hand together and impacts our self-confidence and ultimately, the sense of fulfilment we want to have in our lives.