Occasionally, people will walk up to me and rip off my nametag.
This used to upset me.
I thought it was rude, invasive and disrespectful.
But after a few years, I got over it. Plus I got over myself. And I realized that people were just having fun. No need to cause a scene.
Besides, I have twenty pre-written nametags in my wallet at all times.
Not to mention a tattoo on my chest.
LESSON LEARNED: People can rip off your tag, but they can never steal your truth.
What about you? Are you prepared to walk your truth in a world of (mostly) fiction?
Here’s a collection of practices to you stay unquestionably committed to yourself:
1. Committing to yourself is not a selfish act. That’s the first realization that needs to settle in: That you deserve to walk your truth. That you’re worth it to be honest to. It’s not selfish.
In fact, it’s the exact opposite. After all, you can’t commit to others if you haven’t first committed to yourself. Don’t worry: You’ll still have time to support the people who matter.
And yes, there will be plenty of times when your job – as a leader, as a parent, as a professional – demands that you take a back seat to others. Cool. Good call.
Just remember: The longer you go without putting your own name on your list, the harder it will be (and the guiltier you will feel) when you eventually try to take time for yourself. Think of it as a form of tithing.
As Myrtle Barringer wrote in her widely popular article, Putting Yourself First Without the Baggage of Guilt:
“Having the time to nourish and take care of ourselves has a tendency to take a back seat to all the other responsibilities we juggle. We naturally want to serve and be available to those we love. However, it often leaves us drained, tired and sometimes sick when we don’t stop to recharge our own battery.”
Who knows? Maybe walking your truth is as simple as taking a walk by yourself. How high are you on your own list?
2. Stay away from editors. Unless you’re a professional writer, delete all editors from your life. You know the people I’m talking about:
The ones who constantly correct everything you do. The ones who relentlessly require you to adjust who you are to accommodate their selfish needs. The ones who incessantly ensure that you’re molded into their idealized version of a person.
Yeah. Those people. I call them editors. And if you’re not careful, they will yank you off the path of your truth and lead you down a dangerous cul-de-sac of dishonesty.
That’s why I love my family: After thirty years, they’ve never asked me to edit myself.
They know I’m crazy. They know I’m different. And they know that certain parts of who I am will never change. And they’re okay with that. Because they’re all the exact same way. Normality isn’t exactly a common branch in the Ginsberg family tree.
And likewise, I would never ask them to edit themselves either. That’s how we roll at my house. Are you surrounding yourself with people who don’t ask you to edit yourself?
3. Win the battle over terminal certainty. In a recent article in Oprah Magazine, Mike Robbins writes:
“When we focus on winning or being right, we no longer can access the deepest places within our heart, which is where our real truth comes from. When we let go of our attachment to the outcome of a conversation, what the other person thinks and our erroneous obsession with always having to be right, we give ourselves the opportunity to get real.”
Lesson learned: Be right less. Kick your addiction to terminal certainty. Develop a healthy predisposition to compromise by becoming flexible enough to bend when needed, but without compromising your foundation.
You’ll be walking your truth in no time. Are you focusing on being right or being real?
4. Attract others with equal commitment. There’s a reason that the world perks up and notices when you walk your truth: Because honesty is so rare, it’s become remarkable.
I’m reminded of Brett Dennen’s song, Because You Are a Woman: “The self sin and struggle crowd the sidewalk, parading pose with phones and paper cups. But you walk like truth to a world of fiction.”
This lyric inspired my official definition of honesty: “Honoring the truth, your truth and other people’s truth, while standing on the edge of yourself to salute others without the desire to change, fix or improve them.”
The cool part is, once you employ this philosophy in your daily life, other committed people don’t just notice you – they join you. And this is a good thing. Their unique commitment will both inspire and challenge your own, keeping your accountable to walking your truth when the world expects fiction. How committed are the five people you eat lunch with the most?
5. Behave as the most truthful representation of who you are. The big challenge of walking your truth is that nobody knows it better than you. Which means the only person who can truly tell when you’ve accidentally taken a detour, is you. Better learn how to kick your own ass.
A helpful question to ask yourself throughout your day is, “If I were me, what would I do?”
Yes, it sounds silly. And yes, most people will probably never, ever ask themselves this question. Too confrontational. But in my experience, with this kind of casual dissociation, you stand on the outside looking in. You take an objective stance on your own actions and thus, keep yourself accountable to yourself.
Even if all you do is raise a smidgen of awareness, you win. What question will you ask to stay on the path of self-honesty?
6. Play the music – don’t just show people the notes. Superficiality is bankruptcy. If you want to walk your truth, stay away from “superfluous exertions,” as Seneca wrote in Letters to a Stoic. Such endeavors do nothing but set your commitment back another thousand years.
Instead, find the unique song you were made to sing. And in the distinctive voice you were given to sing it with, belt that baby out with all your might.
If you do that on a daily basis in a respectful, remarkable and real way, the people won’t just take notice – they’ll take a number. And if you’re lucky, their wallets will open faster than a cheerleader on prom night. What is the music of your truth?
7. Exercise enhances honesty. In a 2006 article in Yoga Journal, editor Andrea Kowalski wrote:
“If you often feel that you need to censor yourself in conversation, you may be compromising your fifth chakra, the throat chakra. The gateway between the head and the heart, this energy center includes the neck, the shoulders, the mouth, and the thyroid and parathyroid glands. If the throat is in balance, you will feel comfortable speaking your truth to all people, in any situation.”
Now, whether or not you subscribe to the principles of yoga or Hinduism, there’s still a valuable lesson to be learned: You can’t walk your truth if you don’t work your body.
Doesn’t mean you need to start training for a marathon. But daily exercise accomplishes more than just conditioning your carcass – it’s also training your truth. Especially when you feel sore afterward.
That’s the best part: You feel alive, you feel strong and you know your body is talking to you. And your body will always tell you the truth. How many workouts did you get in last week?
8. Establish a practice. Emerson once said, “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
My suggestion is to practice with distractions. To learn to remain calm in the midst of chaos. By doing so in smaller situations, you develop a deeper ability to walk your truth through the larger storm on the horizon.
For example, yoga class has been a blessing for me in this respect. I’ve become a master at practicing with distractions. Because in any given class, I’ll be confronted with parking lot car alarms, smelly people dripping their sweat on my matt, and of course, beautiful women – wearing almost nothing – bending at the waist directly in front of me.
Nice try, ladies. But I took my contacts out in the locker room, thank you very much.
If you can stay committed to your core during that distraction, you can pretty much do anything. What practice arena will train you to walk your truth when the road gets rocky?
REMEMBER: The primary battle is always within.
After all, if you don’t walk your truth in a world of mostly fiction, you don’t really own your life.
I challenge you to commit to yourself unquestionably. Who knows? Maybe one day somebody will try to rip your nametag off too.
And if they do, just give me a call.
I think I might have a few extra.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
When you walk your truth, what kind of footprints do you leave?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “17 Ways to Out Create the Competition,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
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