I decided to dive in and ask him a personal question. It's always a risk when you don't know the person well yet and when your intuition is pointing to the sense that they are shielding their real self from you, and maybe that they are doing so more out of habit than out of choice. I wanted to understand his motivations. And motivations are intimate. They live and grow in the deepest part of who we are. I see motivations swarming like honey bees, gently, yet purposefully, dancing from one beehive to the next, in the realm of our being. He seemed to welcome the invitation to open up and share, and commented: "Please, go ahead and ask whatever you like, I'm an open book". It's a nice image, an open book. Yet, not necessarily one that reflects the reality of real openness to me. After all, many carefully choose the page at which they keep their book open to others, most of the time. The rest of the book remains unknown to many, and yeah, often even to themselves.
When do we take the time to flick through the book of our lives, reflect on it and receive the mirroring of our personal and individual story, as it reads so far? Let's face it, most of us only feel compelled to really open that book when we are going through or have just gone through a crisis, a painful event, or some kind of loss. So we mostly do it when we are forced to. And the story we read is never good enough, it usually is full of mishaps, dissatisfactions and disappointments. We can never really see the good in who we are and what we have done well, first. We are compelled to focus on what is not, rather than on what is. And yes, scientists say it's biological, that our mind does it to help us survive...
Openness is no longer natural to most of us by the time we have reached teenagehood. Most of us have learnt, by then, not to trust others and to shield ourselves from them. We have, then, lost the capacity to show up as whole persons, as who we really are, good and bad mixed in the same bowl. Openness teaches us that there are more than one facet to any of us and that each facet or mirror has its part in the big play of our lives.
How much love you will know, how much joy you will remember, how much peace you will experience, is all down to openness. When goodness flies into our lives - often first unbeknown to us -, we need to have the windows of our mind and heart open to allow it to flourish in us. Unfortunately, since the windows are open, a lot of other crap also flies in. Stuff that can trigger suffering, and pain. And well, in today's society, we don't like pain, we avoid it as best we can - come on, tell me you're not addicted to anything... It's a difficult choice: to stay open or not to stay open.
And openness is not always culturally correct in our Western world, especially in Anglo-Saxon societies - the Latin cultures do so much better with that. And I see it in many of my clients, when I facilitate, train or coach: how they have taught themselves to be a closed book, as one survival strategy, to avoid further debates, conflicts, delays, complications and challenges in their relationships at work, and well, yes, I suspect, also at home.
As this is it: when you are open, you surrender to all there is, in you and outside you. You bring all the parts that make the story of who you are, as one package, as one book made of many pages - the naughty little boy, the playful partner, the shy husband, the passionate lover, the wild entrepreneur, the dreamy artist, the obsessive thinker, the marshmallow addict, the risky driver... you get my point, right?
Openness leads to authenticity - and that is like viewing the film of the changing landscape that we are. And that is what makes us charismatic leaders and inspiring managers at work, and caring fathers and tender lovers at home.
So, I keep my book open, yes, and I keep aware of the need to turn to the page I need, as and when it's needed. I encourage you to do it too.