I have a memory pending substantiation from my childhood friends but it goes something like this….
We are in 7th grade and it’s the end of the school year and my friends and I have been called into a Truth Circle. None of us know exactly what to expect but it’s a sunny day and we gather on the soccer field, about eight of us sitting cross legged. What happens next is hazy but I believe the Leader of the Truth Circle (one of our 7th grade friends) told each of us what no one liked about us. I remember some girls crying and I remember acting stoic as I heard my “truth” and feeling relieved that the only “truth” that no one liked about me was my apparent stealing of everyone’s boyfriends (kind of seemed like a compliment?).
Many months ago on Facebook, I posed the question to my friends, “What if someone could tell you the “truth” about yourself? Would you want to hear it?” The response was mixed. Some said definitively “yes” and some said “no” and some said that they would like to hear it but it would have to be from someone they completely trusted and in a way they could receive.
In theory, this is what we have Managers for at work and Mentors for in our lives. As a Manager in a corporation, I had my share of giving performance reviews to employees as well as receiving them and I always found it challenging. Within a corporate structure, how honest can we be? How do we know that the person giving us feedback really has our best interest in mind? Are they rationalizing my shitty raise because of the company’s profits or was my performance really lacking? How will I ever really know given the legal bindings of corporate America?
There is a mode of career coaching called the 360 I find intruiging. It is usually for Senior Management in corporations. The employee is evaluated and reviewed by everyone around them. Peers, direct reports, colleagues and those above. This feedback is presented for your higher good by a trusted Coach and often reveals blind spots to help make you a better employee, Leader, contributor and peer to your colleagues. My client and friend Erika who shared her 360 experience with me said it truly was a game-changer for her professionally and something that she craves again now many years later. What it taught her by revealing her blind spots helped her become a stronger Leader and also helped her excel as a high performance communicator. Could the 360 be the modern day and helpful version of the Truth Circle?
In the age we live in, we are presenting an image of ourselves in social media at all times. We are creating a perception of ourselves and marketing ourselves every time we tweet, post a picture on Instagram or post a Facebook status update. Those who observe us are making decisions and having feelings about us 100% based on the tone that we use in our pictures, updates and comments.
Recently Gwyneth Paltrow, bless her heart (as the Southern ladies say when they don’t mean it), found herself in a PR shit-storm for stating in an interview that working mothers have it easier than she does because while working mothers have a routine (9-5 job, mornings at home with our kids), she does not. 14-hour movie set days are so difficult! We all, every mother (working or not) collectively vomited a bit and solidified what we suspected about Gwyneth. She’s so deep into Gwyneth-Ville that she does not know HOW she comes across. I call this Gwyneth Syndrome.
As horrible as that 7th grade Truth Circle may have been in the most awkward and uncomfortable stage of life, I wonder if there was a way we could do this for each other in a good way. If someone could tell you the “truth” about yourself, would you want to hear it? Would you tell me if I had Gwyneth Syndrome my friends?