One of many common threads that often shows up during the Transformational Presence Leadership and Coach Training (TPLC) is the profound shift for participants in their awareness of how they show up in the world. They became aware of the unconscious masks they wear – masks which sometimes keep them from being as authentically powerful and impactful as they could be, both professionally and personally. They discover how much more of a difference they can make when they take down their masks and choose to let their essence and authentic presence lead the way.
Monica Rodriguez, an American living and working in Singapore, was a part of a TPLC training in The Netherlands a year ago. Since then, she has left her corporate General Manager job to establish her own coaching and consulting company. A few weeks ago she shared one of her first blog posts with me. Because it spoke so clearly to this “mask” aspect of Transformational Presence, I asked her permission to share it with our community. Thanks, Monica, for this clear and simple reminder.
by Monica Rodriguez
September 17, 2012 blog post
One day at the apartment a friend commented, “You’ve switched to work mode.” It struck me that there was such a marked difference between Home Monica and Work Monica. It struck me even more that he had noticed when I had not. Apparently, I had suddenly gone from laid back and “go with the flow” to stern and get-it-done.
He was right. Being a General Manager required me to be matter-of-fact, decisive, and results driven. Who had time to “go with the flow” with crucial deadlines pending? My job, back then, demanded that I be the strong face of the firm, no matter what organizational or client crisis ensued. No “softies” allowed, especially for a woman in leadership.
Masks are useful at times. People don and change masks depending on the environment and circumstance. Nervous about giving a formal speech? Put on your Confident Mask to show you’re in command of your presentation. You could be shaking inside, but your audience would not know it with an effective mask. Need to secure a deal? Wear your Steely Lawyer Mask and deftly negotiate your way to a win/win contract. From a very young age, you’ve learned to “play the part.”
However, are you aware of all the masks you put on for various situations or audiences? Has the mask become so habitual that it has been ingrained into your personality? Do you wear so many that you’ve lost sight of who you are? The challenge is putting on so many layers, or becoming attached to a particular mask, that you’ve forgotten your values and priorities underneath.
For instance, perhaps you slip on a Sociable Mask for parties and corporate functions. But if private time is important, do you carve out alone time and nurture that side of yourself? On your last vacation, were you glued to your Blackberry, when you had really wanted to switch off and be with the family? For me, it was difficult to unwind on some weekends, because the Manager Mask had penetrated my state of being.
As we experience life, we take on different roles or try different parts of ourselves. Sometimes experiencing certain parts involves wearing a mask. Having a facade in and of itself is not wrong. The challenge is being fully conscious of the mask we have on, and remembering to take it off when the situation no longer calls for it.
A Beijing opera mask (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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