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The WYSIWYG version of you


It all started when I was 10

When I was in elementary school, I gave $5 to a girl in my class. It may have been the first time I was generous with my own stuff. My brother can attest to the fact that it wasn’t at home sharing Legos.

I had $5. But I also had everything I could ever want (parents, a home, my own room and bed, etc). And for some reason I felt like she didn’t have everything she wanted or needed. So I handed it over.

Two things to note about the story: a) I tried being generous and liked it, and b) other people didn’t (in this case, my parents).

I could tell you about the numerous other times I stretched my generosity muscle, but honestly, we’d be missing the point. This isn’t a post about how generous I am. It’s about being me. All the time.

The WYSIWYG version of you

My friend Cory Miller, the CEO of iThemes, is writing about the new rules of Entrepreneurship. It’s brilliant stuff and I hope you head over to read it.

If you do, you’ll see a phrase that I love, and inspired this post. But before I get to my main point, I want to tell you one more story.

My High School Graduation Party

My challenge in high school was that I didn’t fit into any single group. I was an athlete all 4 years. But I also had a 4.0+ GPA, and in all the AP classes. I lived on the wrong side of town. But all my local friends went to a different high school. Oh, and I was a part of a church group, and sang in 3 different church choirs, but didn’t attend the popular one close to my school.

I spent breaks and snacks moving from one group to another, connecting, and visiting, but never really belonging. And in each group, I wore a different mask.

Until my graduation party – where everyone came together. Suddenly there were 80-100 folks and trust me when I tell you, it didn’t mix. At one point, my youth pastor was playing ping pong with my drunk, cussing soccer buddy.

No More Masks

That was the day I decided I was tired of masks. I would be the same guy in every room I stepped into. Today that means I’m likely to get frustrated and have an argument with my wife, right in front of guests. Why? Because I’m the same guy at home as I am in a restaurant. Every day.

The WYSIWYG version of Me

I have a value for being generous. I’m less attached to my money than you are. It’s something I started leaning into almost 25 years ago. So along with that value is now a skill.

And I bring that value with me wherever I go. It’s part of the WYSIWYG version of me. I also work hard – often much longer hours than many of my friends. It’s also part of the WYSIWYG version of me.

The combination often results in a single question:

“What’s his end game?”

The Reality of Distrust

There are always going to be people who look from the sidelines and wonder why someone would be generous when they don’t have to be.

I’ve already explained the benefits of being generous before, so I won’t go over that again.

But I will say this – you being you, being authentically you, won’t suddenly get you a pass where people don’t question who you are or what you’re about.

But you being you – all the time, in every room – will have a different and more valuable benefit. It eliminates the stress of wearing (and changing) masks. You can be authentically you without worry.

Some people won’t like it. Just like when I was 10. But there’ll be a group that will. And that’s where you want to spend your time anyway.

Actions earn Trust

Cory’s post today, like in his New Rules for Entrepreneurship, ends with a call to serve others.

He’s spot on.

People won’t always trust that I’m not going after some other sinister plan that they can’t figure out yet. But they can watch from those sidelines. And if they watch long enough, eventually they’ll notice that the story never takes a turn.

What you see is what you get. That’s the WYSIWYG version of me.

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