I recently went to a networking event in DC and learned something new. Before the keynote address, the host of the event, sporting a cast and a crutch, jumped up on one leg to welcome the audience. He tried to explain his circumstance and uneasily put his crutch to the side. After the introduction, the keynote speaker stood up and said, “I think that’s great you’re up here hosting on a crutch…don’t apologize for it. Your mess is your story.” The audience laughed and a light bulb went off in my mind. He said something to the effect of, “You, your crutch, your stuff…it’s your story…it’s what makes you human, memorable, relatable and likeable.” It just so happened that Aaron Sherinian, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at the UN, was the speaker; I guess he knows a thing or two about communications!
People like working with people they can relate to, who are honest and genuine. There can be a lot of pressure in society to look like we have everything together, but really, the imperfections can be what connect us to others. Dr. Brene Brown, who has one of the most watched TED talks—“The Power of Vulnerability”—wrote in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” What does this look like for you? How will authenticity in the moment allow you to connect with others?
Don’t worry, you have it more together than you think! But remember, everyone has a little “mess” going on, a bit of the brand “human”… and if you share it with a bit of humor, it can humanize you and be a plus for your story.