I had an awkward moment this week.
We're all prone to them at certain times in our lives.
Mine happened while meeting with a potential client who wanted me to provide some trainings for his staff. When he asked me if I knew anything about his company, I knew I had to fess up. So I said:
"Yes, I do. In fact, I was brought in for a training once before. And... well... it didn't go well."
He paused thoughtfully. "Oh... really?"
"Yes. And actually, I bombed."
And then I told him the whole story... how I hadn't asked enough questions about the audience beforehand... how I'd bored them for hours with information that they already knew... how the audience and I clearly hated each other by the end. (I actually left that last part out, but it was true.)
I also told him that, while a HUGE low point in my career, the experience was also critically important. Because I never let it happen again. Because my presentations are so much stronger now as a result.
He chuckled and said, "Wow, I'm impressed you told me. That took a lot of guts."
I almost laughed out loud. Guts? Not really. Wasn't I just covering my butt in case he found out about the incident elsewhere?
But upon further pondering I realized he was right. After all, I didn't need to be so honest about it, to be so vulnerable. But I was, because I wanted to go into this professional relationship with absolute transparency, so that I could be who I really am.
And so I decided that yes, I do have guts. And, in fact, having guts encompasses a whole lot more than we think about. They show us who we really are.
Sure, people show their guts in amazingly grand ways every day... by persevering through big challenges and climbing to new heights.
But all of us show our guts in smaller, different ways every day.
I invite you to ponder the following list of examples...
What Having Guts Really Means
- Having guts means telling everyone else in the room that you disagree with them because you have a different perspective and you believe it matters.
- Having guts means letting other people win an argument when you're not especially invested in the discussion.
- Having guts means eating a pizza when everyone else orders a salad.
- Having guts means eating a salad when everyone else orders a pizza.
- Having guts means showing up at a new workout or a new networking dinner or a new golf course when everyone else already knows how it all works... and fumbling around until you've figured it out.
- Having guts means throwing away the clothes, tools, gadgets and toys that you haven't used in years.
- Having guts means shutting down email and Facebook for a whole day, knowing that the discussions and jokes will go on without you.
- Having guts means wearing your favorite jeans out to lunch with friends on a Saturday, when you know everyone else will be all dressed up.
- Having guts means using chopsticks for the first time in public.
- Having guts means asking someone who gives you energy to have lunch, even if you've never had lunch with them before.
- Having guts means telling someone who brings you down that you can't have lunch, even if you have lunch with them all the time.
In the end, really, having guts means having the courage to be the you that you like best. To be the you who you really are.
Sometimes being the real you is as vulnerable as it gets. Because it means by definition that you're not like everybody else. That you're different. Sometimes it means showing that you don't know everything.
But, in the end, it's when we have guts that we get the gold. It's when we have the courage to be who we really are that our lives truly belong to us.
And, as a bonus, that's when others figure out that we're pretty great, too. Which is what leads to all kinds of new opportunities.
Like returning to the scene of the lowest point in your career so you can kick some major butt. Which is exactly what I intend to do.
Recognize that you've got guts. Figure out how to get some more.
Have the courage to be who you really are.
And make this life count.