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They know.

A friend of the essayist David Perrell told him about the author of a wonderful memoir. 

After its release, she was asked what it takes to write such an outstanding book. She replied, 

“If you want to write a good book,
write about the things you don’t want
others to know about you.

If you want to write a great book,
write about the things you don’t want
to know about yourself.”

This idea struck me deeply. 

What I don’t want you to know about me

My community and clients are very familiar with this sentence stem. “What I don’t want you to know about me…” is how I regularly begin a training or a coaching session. I’ve often started speeches to large audiences with the same phrase. 

You see, I spent the first half of my life pushing away any sense of vulnerability. Vulnerability was a weakness, in my mind. There was no way I could let you see me as weak. 

I hid my tears. I stuffed down my feelings. And in relationships, I never let my partner in.

I’ve spent twenty five years working on myself. 

I’m still a work in progress but I definitely have a new relationship with vulnerability. 

I try not to hide what’s going on. And when I catch that I am stuffing down my feelings (or, more likely, Monique catches it before me!) I am pretty quick to own what is going on.

Beginning with the words, “What I don’t want you to know about me…” allows me to get out of my own way and share truths before I am ready. 

Vulnerability is a strength and these words are my route in.

Look, I’m very human and there are still a few things that I don’t want others to know about me but I am as open as I can manage with my friends, my clients and my community. 

However, the thought of reflecting on what I don’t want to know about myself is pretty visceral.

I’ve been journaling about it for a few days now.

What don’t I want to know about myself includes:

  • The secret shame I have inside because I didn’t stand up to the kids who bullied me at school, or the person who bullied me in my first ever job… 
  • My fear about the emptiness inside me, that I constantly try to fill with success and busywork…
  • My unease at the blindspots other people see in me, that I cannot see in myself…
  • My discomfort about how I would feel about myself if I wasn’t successful…
  • My awkwardness about why I can sometimes feel intimated about initiating sex… 
  • The tension I feel underneath it all because I’m still very insecure…
  • My anxiety about what I’d discover about myself if I stopped working so hard… 
  • How tight my chest gets when I wonder whether I’d risk my life for someone I love who was in danger…
  • How my intellect is trying to manage my fear… 
  • How I unconsciously slip into taking care of everyone else’s emotional needs… 
  • How I feel responsible for making everyone else feel comfortable… 

Ooh. That was tough to write. And it’s tough to share. 

I’m sure there’s more. I shall keep thinking and journaling. 

There’s nothing as impactful as reflecting on a powerful question.

I just came across some incredible art by Leah Saulnier. The piece above is called Book of Secrets. For me it captures the nature of the human condition.  

We each have a face that we show to the world, hoping that no one can see just how much we are hiding. 

Yet they know. 

They know.

Love. Rich 

 

PS. Join me and the members of 4PC as we reflect on powerful questions with our powerful community—in the 4PC Accelerator. You’ll develop your own intellectual property and build your own community—so that dream clients call you Plus, there are only 5 tickets left at $5K. Then the price increases to $6K.   

PLUS Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 more ways we can help you stand out as a trusted advisor to high-level leaders:

  1. Listen to me coaching. It took me 5 years of feeling afraid of creating a podcast before I finally launched it, two years ago. I’m very proud that I’m currently recording Season 12 and we’re almost 100 episodes in. Listen in, as I coach people as powerfully as if they were my 1:1 clients—in fact, many are! (1 Insight with Rich Litvin is on every podcast app, or watch me on YouTube).
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  4. If you are super sharp you may not need deep coaching. This is why I created The Thinking Partnership. Short, sharp, highly-focused, 30 minute sessions. Some clients are done in ten minutes. You are not paying for my time. You are paying for me to provoke your thinking and mess with your thoughts. If you want to work with me in an unorthodox way, to turbo-charge your ideas, your business or your life—this may be for you

 

 

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