While teaching a self awareness program, one of the participants mentioned our “ambassadors” in context of how we relate to each other. What? Who are these ambassadors that he is talking about?
With a little more explanation, it struck me as one of the best analogies for what often happens in relationships. Have you ever made a bad hire? Or decided to work for a boss who later turned out to be totally different than you expected? Or discovered a few months into a new relationship or friendship that the person you thought you knew is not in the building? It has happened to me way too many times to count. And more than once, I have questioned my judgment and wondered what I missed, and how I could have been so wrong.
What really happened is that I bought into the other person’s ambassador. We all have one…and maybe more than one. The ambassador is the persona (or hologram) we create to move another person to hire us, like us and approve of us, especially early in relationship. It’s natural and human nature to want to make a good impression. No one shows up at a job interview saying “I’m scared to death to be here, and very worried that I won’t find a job soon, and I know my skills are ok, but maybe not great, and I will work whatever hours you need, and I tend to struggle with authority. Did I tell you I really need this job?” Instead, we send our ambassador, the very well-groomed alter-ego who is put together, totally polite, confident and capable and has lots of options.
We all do it. It’s normal, and yet it also carries those pesky risks, like hiring the wrong person, becoming disillusioned with the boss or choosing poorly in our personal relationships. In fact, the very hologram that we create to impress is often the source of our breakdowns.
What would allow us to show just a tiny window into who we really are? What if we could be confident enough to say “I don’t know”? What if the real person that we are hiding behind our ambassador is more interesting and lovable than the persona we create? How much more satisfying would life and work be if we could align ourselves inside and out?
These questions – and many more – are the questions of self awareness. While seeing yourself, warts and all, can be mighty uncomfortable at times, it is also the path to becoming aligned and whole. It takes energy to fuel the ambassador. As a result, we live our lives interacting with the not-real hologram-like ambassadors of this world and then we wonder why things don’t work like they “should.” It might be worth getting to know the person creating the persona.