Creativity calls for truth telling.
“A lot of growing up is learning to shift the responsibility from the other to the self.”
~ Brian Koppelman (from his interview on The Tim Ferriss Show)
“The word integrity (from integer) means ‘wholeness.’ Living in integrity means expressing and doing what’s true for you in all situations. Depart from your truth in any way—offer a fake smile, flatter your awful boss, marry for money—and you become two people: the truth knower and the lie actor. That’s duplicity. And duplicity, not social noncompliance, is the real enemy of joy.”
~ Martha Beck, excerpt from “How to Live Your Truth”
All entrepreneurs and creators have known the pain and frustration of being stuck—unable to find the right words, the flowing zone of ease—when we attempt to get what is in our heads onto paper in a clear and compelling way.
Austin Kleon, who describes himself as a writer who draws, has a simple way to combat such trudges through the quicksand. When he gets stuck on a writing project, he will stop and ask himself one, powerful question: What did you really want to say?
What do you really want to say?
Ever since I came across this golden nugget, I have wielded it against some of my thorniest writing challenges. I have been relieved to discover that pausing to ask myself this question helps to chisel out the substance of what it is I want to convey like the way Michelangelo liberated figures from marble.
But what if the words that we are laying down like a dealer in Las Vegas lays down cards on a game table are hollow? Incomplete? Not clear enough? And worst of all…what if what we are writing is not totally honest?
We don’t even know how often we do it. We do it all the time.
Little shavings off the truth corners here and there. Choosing to stop ourselves from writing that, saying this, or going there. Keeping our words more safe, more flattering to ourselves. Opting out of vulnerability and visibility…embracing instead a well-padded, beige, and boring sameness so we don’t stand apart or risk being viewed negatively.
I was incredibly struck by how Brian Koppelman presented himself during an interview on the Tim Ferriss Show which aired last spring. Throughout their entire conversation, Brian would take great care to be very clear that he wanted no daylight between his private and public selves.
Each and every time Brian felt he was edging out of total integrity and truth telling, he’d stop himself and correct the record…even when what he was pointing out was not particularly flattering or favorable to himself. Over and over and over, he revealed deeply personal aspects of his life, how he now chooses to approach the conversations he has with others, and how he presents himself to the world.
With every truth…every reveal…I was drawn in deeper and deeper into the layers of meaning. I was riveted, inspired, and energized not only by the content of their discussion, but even more so by how Brian ensured each one of his words reflected a profound honesty.
The Power of Truth Telling
Now when I get to critical points in my writing, I’ll stop and ask myself two questions:
1) What did you really want to say?
2) Is it honest?
I’ll dig to reveal where I am holding myself back. Where I have a gap of any size between my private and public selves. Where I’m holding my reader at bay, while I hide behind a fabrication, large or small.
I bring my inner Brian Koppelman to the page, along with my courage to write the things that scare me most in sharing.
Our readers, listeners, and/or our ideal clients can intuit when we are faking it versus when we are truth telling, digging down to the marrow and sharing it all…good, bad, embarrassing, and ugly.
Our courage breaks open something in the reader…and us. It connects us to more genuine living and being. The transformative power of truth telling with our voices—our art—lifts others and stirs them awakes. When we stop holding ourselves back, we model the dual powers of possibility and authenticity.
We link arms with our readers and clients—landing together on the space on the game board labeled Freedom.