Saying goodbye to summer seemed to be easy for many this year. I’m not sure if it’s the desire to scoot 2020 along as fast as we can with the hope that 2021 will bring blessings this year hasn’t or if it’s just that I’m around more people who prefer pumpkin spice lattes to the Arnold Palmers that summer delivers. Regardless, throughout the month of August I began seeing houses adorned with beautiful fall mums, pumpkins, and even yard displays with bales of hay, scarecrows, and Halloween decorations.
2020 may not provide the Halloween we’re used to, but that doesn’t mean we’ve given up the wearing of costumes. I actually believe many of us wear them every day—just not in the form of witches, princesses, and superheroes like we once did.
The Costumes We Wear
The costumes adults wear are much different indeed for they are the costumes we think we need to fit in, receive recognition, and be liked by others. We don’t realize we’re wearing the costume, of course, until we hit our breaking point.
My client Tara worked her way up the corporate ladder to her current role as Director of Operations for a mid-sized service-based business. For over a decade she worked 55-65 hours per week, stepped up to help with any unexpected needs, and put all of her eggs in her ‘work basket’.
Tara was recognized for all she accomplished with promotions, bonuses, a seat at the decision-making table with other leaders of the organization, and a life she no longer recognized. When she reached out to me to inquire about my team coaching and development services, she was interested in hiring me to work with her and the team she led. She wanted improvements in the team’s internal and external communication as well as their time and priority management.
By the end of our initial call, Tara’s plan had changed. In our 45-minute conversation, Tara shared her successful history with the company and some of her many accomplishments. She also told me she was burned out and tired of the act of pretending to be someone she’s not. She was fed up with the costume wearing she’d done for 10+ years.
Why We Think We Need the Costumes
So why do we put these costumes on day after day rather than simply show up as our true selves for the world to love—or not? Let’s take it back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where we learned that once our basic needs of food, warmth, and safety are met, we move into the psychological needs of belongingness and prestige. The hierarchy doesn’t picture an adult in costume, but this is exactly the stage in that pyramid where we begin combing the Target aisle for the costume we think we need.
To move away from having to make that costume ‘purchase’, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I believe that I’m naturally creative, resourceful, and whole? (Shout out to Coach Caryn Gillen for this question!)
- Do I know and embrace that the REAL me won’t be liked and accepted by everyone and that is completely and unequivocally okay?
- Do I commit to living life naked—or, ahem, costume-free—from here on out?
- Do I believe that the truest version of who I am is capable of achieving whatever I commit to?
- Do I promise to stay costume-free even when it seems hard; even when the costume seems to be more comfortable; even when I doubt my abilities?
Notice all of these questions have to do with a commitment to the inner work that’s needed when we decide to do life costume-free.
A Choice to Live Life Costume-Free
And speaking of that costume-free life, the change of plans for Tara that was mentioned earlier went like this:
- Instead of signing on for team coaching and development as she originally thought she might, she signed on for private coaching.
- In her coaching program, we worked on how Tara could fill herself up on the inside with self-belief, confidence, clarity, and self-love.
- By leading herself first from the inside out, she fulfilled Maslow’s psychological needs and moved up on the hierarchy to the self-fulfillment needs of self-actualization.
- At that point she made the decision to hire me to help her team.
Could we have had positive results without the private coaching for Tara? I believe we could have.
And yet, if we’d moved forward in that way, Tara would have had the messy distraction of a costume impeding her view of the clear path she ultimately created for herself, the path that helped her lead herself first and be that leader others WANT to follow.
Are you ready to live life costume-free? I shed mine a few years ago, and it’s the work I now have the privilege of doing with the leaders who hire me. When you’re ready to do the same, let’s talk.