There are some voices out there who tell you that the way to get ahead is to calculate every move you make – life is all one big game – and you do whatever you have to do to win.
Every move is transactional.
Every gesture is intentional.
Every social media post is congruent with your short term/long term goals.
Every single thing you do is thought out and supportive of your “personal brand” – the brand that’s going to get you to the top, only to the top, and keep you there.
It’s all calculation, positioning, appearance, working the angles.
Yep, and then…
Then we have a fast-moving crosscurrent of people who are waking up to say, “I’ve had it with fake.”
These are people who are looking for authenticity. Demanding it, even.
They want it in politics, they want it in relationships, they want it in leaders, they want it in communities.
They want real. They are okay with raw.
They just want what’s true.
A week ago, I was in Atlanta with my dear sister-by-choice Dr. Laurie Foley who moved into hospice care after it became clear that there was no more treatment for her ovarian cancer. Laurie is a PhD computer scientist who later became a transformative coach, speaker and writer. As I sat in her hospice room and we talked (and talked and talked), a realization bloomed in my heart and mind.
Here, at what is most definitely the end of her life, Laurie had no time for triviality. She only wanted to talk about things that are real. Things that are, at times, raw – but things that need to be said.
Folks, I learned that there is no pussyfooting around in hospice – because who’s got the time? You want strawberry ice cream? You ask for it, clearly and insistently if you must. You want to talk with someone on the phone? You ring them up. You need to say who you want to see and who you don’t? You say it.
It’s real. It’s raw. And it’s very, very true.
Since Laurie’s entry into hospice, social media – Facebook in particular – has blown up. People are posting recollections of hearing her speak, or being coached by her. On a whim, I suggested people write “LaFo” (my witty JLo-esque nickname for my friend) on their forearm to show their love for her, and now thousands of people have done so and are posting pictures of their LaFo art. There’s a moving video, a powerful speech by her, and loving reminiscences everywhere. A fabulous artist has even made a coloring book page celebrating LaFo.
It’s as if, here at the end of her life, Laurie’s impact has never been more powerfully felt.
At nearly the same time that Laurie moved into hospice, our dear friend, the writer Patti Digh, had a heart attack. She wrote brilliantly about it on her blog, and that piece was picked up by the Huffington Post where it’s gone viral. See, Patti was told her heart attack symptoms were simply anxiety. When, in reality, she had a 90 percent blockage in a key artery. The piece she wrote – the one that Arianna Huffington read and directed be posted – it’s real. It’s raw. It’s true. You can read it here. Her follow-up piece was as beautiful a piece of writing as I’ve ever seen her do. Read that one here.
This confluence of events has been, as you can imagine, like a strong dose of smelling salts to me.
I’m asking: What am I doing with myself and my work?
How do I want to show up?
Is there any place I’m hiding?
Where can I be more real? More raw? More true?
Tough questions, but important ones – and I’m going to keep asking them of myself until I’m totally satisfied with my answers.
I’m going to be more real. More raw. More myself.
Because if I’ve learned anything in the last ten days, it’s this: There is no more time for pussyfooting around.