I heard a story about a coach who started her practice by giving a friends and family rate to clients. “Maya,” a smart, engaging entrepreneur who had a multi-level marketing business, was one of her first consultations. They were having a great time getting to know one another, but different parts of Maya’s story didn’t seem to add up. Midway through their session the Coach quietly said, “You’re a faker.”
Maya hit the roof. “What?! How can you say that to me? Authenticity is one of my highest priorities! I have integrity in everything I do! That’s totally wrong!”
The Coach was taken aback. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that you were inauthentic. I mean you try to make everything all right, no matter how challenging things are. You have a hard time admitting when you’re facing something tough – that’s why you fake it. Why do you feel like you always have to put on a happy face?”
Maya was surprised, but she immediately understood the Coach’s feedback. She was a little embarassed. And then annoyed. And ultimately humbled. As she went through different areas of her life, she knew the Coach was right. She also understood that it meant coming clean in places where she had put on the happy face. This was an especially challenging task since she was in business with her family. Over the next month, she had meeting after meeting with the family explaining the details of the business, even the ones that weren’t so pretty.
I think we all have Maya’s theme someplace in our life. Maya was the strong, competent businesswoman to her affiliates. In an effort to encourage them when business was down, she would gloss over financial realities which were their common concern. At home, she was the playful little sister. However, she felt compelled to cheer everyone up as her parents’ marriage disintegrated. And she was the fun-loving adventurer to her friends. Even when things didn’t go as planned, she had to reassure the rest of the group about how much fun they were having. From the outside looking in, her life seemed to be working, but ultimately she was exhausted.
This week, take a look at your world and see where you may be putting on a happy face. It’s a little different than being positive in the face of adversity and recognizing the cyclic nature of life. (As Joel Osteen likes to joke, “This problem didn’t come to stay, it came to pass!”) Putting on a happy face means that you’re fearful about being honest. You’re afraid what might happen if you faced the truth. And you’re worried about what will happen next if you admit what’s really going on.
Be brave! You may have some difficult moments, but working through problems when they’re small is so much better than facing a harsh reality that could have been avoided. I’ll leave you with an affirmation from one of my favorite authors, Sandra Anne Taylor: “I expect the best, and I am equipped to deal with the rest!”