The guy sitting two tables away coyly opens his smartphone camera and puts it on selfie view so that he can check himself out. When he sees that his hair and game-face are in place, he clicks off the camera.
When his lunch guest arrives, he gets up and gives the visitor a strong handshake. You can see the confidence exuding from him. I see scenes like this one play out all across the restaurant. Men and woman in power suits, all primping and posing, all playing a game.
All the while, in my mind, another scene replaces this one. Instead of business people, I get the image of small group of mallard ducks—calm on top, but underneath, waddling for their life.
We’re all waddling. We’re all trying to convey an image of strength, that we’ve got it, but more and more I’m convinced that we’re really just mask-wearing imposters.
With that image playing in my head, I heard a senior executive — someone who I deeply respect — say recently that he still thinks of himself in his 20s until he looks in the mirror or his son asks him for the keys to the car.
We’re all trying to be something we’re not. Oh, I get it, some will say I’m crazy. I just think we’re all trying to present the best possible image of ourselves. I count myself in that lot too.
But the real question remains: Why can’t we be ourselves. What ever happened to being authentic?
I think the answer rests in a number of areas. For me, I’m try my best to be organized and on top of everything. My wife is onto me though. After 25 years of marriage, she knows when I’m mailing it in. She’ll yell “Brian” until she gets my attention and then she tells me that she wants the “Real Brian” — the real one, warts and all, not some mindless robot playing a game.
I eventually let that Brian come out and I’m better for it.