I had just walked into my hotel room in mid-town Manhattan. It was 5:00 pm and my heart stopped as I opened my suitcase. The one and only t-shirt I packed for a work out was three sizes too small. My heart had been set on a run in Central Park before dinner with a client and I had nothing to run in.
I decided to attempt to toss (more like stretch and unroll) the shirt on. It was long sleeved and sleeves came down to just below my elbows. The bottom just covered my naval for a sort of mid-drift Spandex look and feel. I looked in the mirror and hardly recognized myself; I looked like a middle-aged race-walker with accentuated body fat.
My desire to run and take in the energy of this great city prevailed and I rode the elevator to the first floor. I dashed through the lobby, zipped by the doorman and hit the pavement. As I ran I was struck by how self-conscious I felt. Given the thoughts running through my head you would have thought I was running naked in one of the largest cities in the world. I was once-again reminded how much energy I expend on looking good.
Actually the energy used is not just to look good, it’s about acceptance. Everyone has a core human need for acceptance. Many of us believe that if we look good we will be accepted and from that will flow rapport, relationship and connection. Dr. Brene Brown is a researcher on the topic of shame and speaks eloquently about the core need for connection.
Before connection, I think we first must meet our need for self-worth. How can we meet our need for connection without first meeting our need to feel inherently valuable?
As I ran I grew increasingly relaxed and stopped focusing on my attire or the people walking the sidewalks around me. I had taken a risk and overrode my initial feeling of vulnerability and didn’t let my mind hijack a perfectly beautiful run. I also wondered how much looking good costs me.
How much energy do you expend looking good? What’s the upside in your leadership and relationships for you stepping into your vulnerability? I bet you have a story about it.