How do we learn to act right, whatever that means? We have a three-year-old at home who has quite a healthy, age-appropriate appetite to test our boundaries. How she protests, whether overtly or covertly, is fascinating and I find myself thinking of two things as I ponder learning how one behaves. Whether we’re talking about a child or an old, long-in-the-tooth character such as myself, the principles are the same.
Where are the boundaries, what’re the consequences if they’re crossed, and what’s the calculation of whether it’s worth it to cross them? It’d be hubris, or pride, to believe I’m different from my daughter. It’s an illusion. Don’t get me wrong, in my daily life I no longer take risks that’d get me in legal trouble – my twenties were the sort of nightmare that only a young man could create – but as an adult? The boundary testing is often emotional or even interpersonally capricious or erratic. Few places more obviously than oversharing.
My wife and I talk a lot about sharing vulnerability online, when we live in a society where being up front about weakness is bucking one of their fundamental taboos. In German culture, you might be allowed to be a flawed human within your family or in your circle of close friends, but certainly not in public. It’s literally an affront to my casual German friends to share openly about my faults and my struggles.
Here’s the rub, though, in our digital age: my message to clients, and Miriam’s as well, is that we have much more power and control over our online presence than at first we realise. I can share honestly, while never risk becoming a completely open book. It’s absolutely not my goal to show weakness and then stay stuck in that position. Instead, my goal is to help Germans, and others for that matter, overcome their aversion to being authentic.
Only showing your wins, might sound like a good strategy, and I’m sure it’ll attract a variety of readers and colleagues, or even clients, who admire your success. My plea is that you consider showing when you fell short. When you didn’t live up to someone else’s standards, even shockingly your own unrealistic expectations.
There’s freedom in that space…where one’s authenticity overrides anything else. The longer I do this thing? The more that’s where I want to reside. Someday even permanently.