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Behind the Curtain

October 19, 2010

One of my favorite movies (that does not star Audrey Hepburn!) has always been The Wizard of Oz.  Now, I’ll admit, as a child those flying monkeys gave me nightmares and Miss Gulch on her bicycle STILL scares me. The munchkins will always be cool in my book and I have been known to do a mean imitation of the Wicked Witch of the West’s famous line “I’ll get you my pretty!” (with Bugles snacks on my fingertips, of course!)

Watching The Wizard of Oz as an adult, and remembering Ms. O’Connor’s high school English lessons about finding the “underlying meaning” in a story, it feels like I am watching a whole new movie. Themes of loyalty, friendship, justice, and risk-taking are now more apparent to me.

As I also think about mid-life, one theme in this movie has come to the forefront. Do you remember near the end of the movie when Dorothy, Toto, and their pals finally get in to see the “great and powerful Wizard of Oz”? Everyone in the land of Oz thinks they know the Wizard. Powerful, wonderful, all-knowing, he can do anything. Well, thanks to Toto, who pulls away the curtain, the true wizard is revealed. And, lo and behold, he is a nice, simple, humble, likable man.

What would I see if I peeked behind your curtain? Are you one person at work, another with your friends, and yet another at home? Which is the real you? I find it hard to maintain these separate “me’s”. Goodness knows over the years I have tried! But, what if a colleague or client becomes a friend? Who am I to them then? I don’t know about you, but I feel uncomfortable and sometimes like a phony when I am wearing these masks. I think things like “they’d run for the hills if they knew the real me!” I have also found that keeping up different me’s is A LOT of work and A LOT of stress. It takes so much extra energy!

When you drop your pretenses and live truer to your genuine self, you feel better in your own skin. You feel more confidence because your values, your characteristics and your interests are consistent, genuine, and authentic.

I’m not suggesting that you wear your favorite sweat pants to your next big business meeting, BUT, I am encouraging you to find ways to be consistent in who you are. Let the real you shine through! Just like the Wizard of Oz, you’ll feel better when you come out from behind the curtain.

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