I’ve used this literary reference more than any other during my many years of speaking. Why? Because every single one of us has a curtain that we keep shut to protect the very vulnerable parts of ourselves.
I see it all the time in business:
You would think that we would all save ourselves time and energy by being who we are in the business world, but we’ve been beaten down too many times to risk it.
We pull levers to create an image of ourselves that is tough, and dominating, and unbreakable. Because somewhere along the way we were hurt by a co-worker, a leader, a principal or a teacher. Someone took us down, and let us know that we’d better hide our hearts behind a curtain.
The sad thing is that the best part of us is no longer seen at work. We’ve created an industrial environment filled with cold, hard facts; a land where, too often, people are endured while spreadsheets are worshiped.
We become corporate-bots, memorizing scripts and mouthing catch-phrases that we verbalize without energy. We attend meetings where the same facts are delivered in even greater detail but no original thoughts are gathered. We go home each day feeling exhausted and empty.
I suggest we reconnect with our hearts, come out from behind the curtain, and take risks in the name of passion. We need to give voice to what our heart is saying in meetings, rather than saying what we believe is “right” or “acceptable.” Maybe people will mock us at first, because the color commentary will stand starkly against a gray, industrial setting. But do it anyway.
Some of you are probably thinking, “Great advice, but I really need my job right now.” I’m not recommending that you scream at the CEO or curse at a co-worker. What I am saying is that you put energy into your presentation and thought into your comments. Stop running on auto-pilot, assuming you can’t make a difference.
So many people have told me that family is where you heart belongs, not work. But try spending 75% of your life in an environment that you don’t care about. It kills the soul.
Maybe our hearts don’t have to be put out on the table in every meeting and with every colleague, but occasionally we have to bring it out from behind the curtain so that people will see our humanity and trust us.
I say we should go home tired, while knowing that we put passion into our work.
I tend to agree with the Tin Woodman:
“Oh, I see;” said the Tin Woodman. “But, after all, brains are not the best things in the world.”
“Have you any?” inquired the Scarecrow.
“No, my head is quite empty,” answered the Woodman; “but once I had brains, and a heart also; so, having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart.”