I mentioned my time working at the giant religious organization.
Well, the leader and founder of that organization is about as charismatic and intimidating as they come. He speaks to thousands each week at the headquarters, and then to literally millions worldwide through TV and webcasts.
In person, that leader comes across as extremely genuine and down-to-earth. It’s obvious he cares a lot about people.
It’s hard not to respect someone like that—someone many consider important, yet who always gives so freely of himself.
That leader has now been a public figure for decades. He very deeply understands the power of his reputation, often mentioning the value of a good name in his talks. If he were ever caught doing something he speaks against, there’s no telling how many lives, careers, and investments would be negatively impacted.
But I don’t think his reputation is his primary motivation for staying integrous. Rather, I believe he is empowered by a particular dynamic that goes into effect whenever honest perspective and experience are shared publically over time.
You might not have millions watching and ready to hold you accountable to whatever you say. Yes, you feel responsible to certain individuals and groups, such as leaders, companies, dependents, higher powers…
You want to do right by those you love and respect; but your reputation and responsibilities really only influence your behavior about as much as a fear of getting caught. Such forces seem too indirect and too easy to negotiate with, put off, or ignore, especially when you don’t see the behavior you want to change directly affecting anyone but you.
To put that in perspective: I was pretty much high all the time while working for that religious organization. I felt bad for doing something I’d be ashamed of if everyone knew; but I just didn’t see my weed use directly hindering anyone there.
I was never confronted or warned. I never hit rock bottom. I could function well at work and get by.
Besides, I was always somehow convinced I was just about to quit weed, anyway.
Here’s something I once wrote while high:
“Thought leaders are motivated to maintain their integrity by the fact that they’re sharing their thoughts.
“But there seems to be a disconnect for anyone trying to maintain integrity for the sake of those leaders or anyone else.
“Going public with your real experience enables you to tap into the same type (or source) of accountability thought leaders have—the same motivation for maintaining integrity.
“It’s not accountability to others, but to yourself, and to what you see and hear yourself publically saying you want and believe.”
Millions of followers might never withdraw support from me if I smoke weed on a day I’ve said I don’t want to. But going public isn’t really about the power of reputation.
Going public draws the logic and reasoning behind your convictions out from the shifting, elusive space of your conscious mind. It makes everything about who you are and what you want more and more obvious to you in time, forcing you to see your life as objectively as possible.
I’ll close with an opinion about organizations like the one I once worked for. This is just a trend, maybe, that’s gone on over the last decade and a half or so:
In an interview with Larry King, Pastor Joel Osteen from Houston, TX, said, “How can we be moving our church into a basketball arena that seats 16,000 people? I mean, people are hungry for hope and encouragement . . . you look back 10 years ago, there was, you know, not that many churches that had over 1,000 or 5,000 people. It’s a different day today.”
It seems as though the organizations and movements that are naturally growing and thriving today are those where the focus is outward—on equipping attendees to go out and pursue their best lives as secure individuals in society.
Other, similar organizations with a more inward-driven focus—on drawing people in and teaching them to be responsible to the leader and to the goals of the organization—are fighting to build forced relevance on credit the way businesses had to a couple decades ago.
That trend could illustrate what I’m saying here: that being responsible to someone else might seem like a good enough motivation; but having your passion ignited to reach your individual potential becomes an inescapable force.
I’m certainly not trying to start yet another organization or movement. I’m not telling you to start one either. That would seem wasteful and unnecessary these days, no?
Tomorrow: being ready to find your path to destiny.
P.S. I later got high, read through what I’d written here, and wrote:
“I mentioned how preparing to share my experience made me aware of an ever-widening gap of inactivity—a gap between realizing how much I wanted to change and actually changing.
“Sadly, a gap like that can stretch as far as you let it. The only way to bridge such a gap is for your perspective to change.
“But no rush. Going public isn’t any kind of snap-out plan. It’s not something to jump into like an artificial list of steps to follow.
“It’s really more about the power of simply becoming your best self publically, which seems to be a more seasonal, sequential process.
“It comes about as naturally as a brewing storm.
“Stages in the process bring themselves into being on their own, when their time is right.
“Just keep recording and connecting your intuitions, convictions, plans, motivations…
“See each aspect of your own life and heart as many times as you need to, and for as long as it takes.
“Now, I’ve been preparing to go public for at least two years. That’s after probably another two of realizing I should.
“There are no ‘Five Quick Steps to Going Public’ or anything like that.
“It’s all about your story as it feeds perpetually back into itself, eventually changing your perspective as your unique path to becoming who you want to be sparks itself together from pieces of everything you are, as well as all you learn and go through.
“In exactly the place where my plans to change have failed, I now find myself moving farther and faster than I could have ever imagined or engineered.”