The Scariest Costume of All — The Pretender

First a shout
out to my workshop attendees from Pepsi.
I spent a
half day with some of Pepsi’s hand picked rising Asian
American star employees. They are members of PAN (Pepsi Asian Network) one of
Pepsi’s many multicultural employee groups. Some large corporations form
“affinity” or “resource” groups to assist employees with their integration
and assimilation. However most companies still labor under the erroneous and archaic assumption that there will be a "natural" diversity that will emerge in a truly merit based and competitive environment. Logo_pepsico But Pepsi is different. They
recognize that creating and growing a multi-cultural team requires leadership and investments of time and resources. Pepsi nominates
talented team members and invests in their development. This kind of investment
generates loyalty and retains the very top performers. The PAN leaders were primarily
first generation Asian immigrants from Pakistan, Thailand, China, India, Korea,
Taiwan who are ambitious and passionate. What a joy to
facilitate a workshop for them on networking and mentoring. Being around
competent, curious, and energetic people is always inspiring to me!
It is no wonder that Pepsi is such a world leader that continues to be a model
for others.



Saw some pretty impressive costumes this week. One of the
most popular costumes of the season is–being somebody else—being somebody that other people want you to be. These people assume the identity, the career interests, and the dreams that other people want for them. I jokingly call this the outfit of the Federal Witness Relocation Program. Taking on a new identity can be easier and safer. This happens when other
people tell you what you SHOULD do, what is BEST for you, what you are GOOD
at, and who you are NOT. And not having an answer, you are gradually fitted with somebody else’s life, a frighteningly phony costume!  

Like Jeff Bridges in the 1984 film Starman, where as a space alien he becomes human and normal by copying what other people do and say. Or like Jeff Dunham's lifeless ventriloquist’s dolls that come to
life with someone else’s words and actions. 

Where do these
costumes come from? How does this occur? Sometimes this happens because of over
bearing parents who do not nurture inherent and innate talents. Instead they impose
their own dreams on their kids. Others of us fall into jobs and positions that are placeholders until we decide what we want to be when we grow up. Then one day we
wake up and we start feeling the pangs of regret. Still others of us feel guilty
pursuing our secret passions and interests when being rational and practical is the expectation. In any case we
defer our needs and dreams. We assume comfortable identities, costumes, and lives that are not truly our own.

Everyone has
hidden talents, submerged career urges, inner callings, unrealized natural
genius skills and abilities. We all do. We really do. And when these pent up passions and
curiosities get mummified by layers and layers of identities that are projected
on us and assumed by us, a life that is true to itself can be lost. And worse,
we as a society lose that genius. We as a community lose real passion and
inspiration. We as a family or a team lose a role model. Being who we were meant to be is selfish
and generous.

For those of
you, who are just befuddled by this, count yourselves amongst the fortunate.  Be grateful somebody helped you find yourself or let you become who you are. Your job is to
free the others from their suffocating costumes.

For those of
you who know that you are wearing a nice looking but totally poor fitting
costume, it’s time to look in the mirror and inside. If you do, you will be greeted by a
sense of freedom and fear. Free to do what you want and fear of failure. Either
way it will be exciting. You can either strip off the costume in one act of courage if you know what you want.
Or visit the career wardrobe shop and try on as many new yous as you want. You can rent or borrow new career and life costumes to see if they fit. You are in control. It never has to be all or nothing. But doing nothing is never an option.

Bottomline: Really hard
to be mentored or to network when you are an impostor!

Stop pretending. Abandon those scary inauthentic costumes. Escape the Federal Witness Relocation Program. Don’t allow others to
design your dreams. And let that amazing you reveal itself. We all need you to be who you were meant to be.

Thanks for
reading. John




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