I’ve been working with people who feel guarded. They don’t want to let down their walls because it feels too vulnerable, and let’s face it, it’s a given that most of us like protection from rejection and discomfort.

But I wonder, what is the cost?

Recently I accompanied my colleague to provide training to an organization of about 40. In the five years I’ve been part of our team, I haven’t been in the front of a room. I’m quite comfortable at the back of the room, behind my computer writing, or coaching one-on-one.

During the training, employees participate in an activity in which they fill in the blank, “I’m not (blank) enough,” and write it on a card. They come face-to-face with a limiting belief.

We anticipate the discomfort people feel by taking this belief out of hiding…and then we ask them to share it.

It’s like a game of hide-and-please-don’t-seek.

When we play the real game of hide-and-seek, we win the game because we’re the last one to be seen. But when playing hide-and-seek in life, we lose connection with each other. We’re tucked into our favorite hiding places instead of being out in the open, visible.

  • This activity is uncomfortable.
  • It’s vulnerable.
  • It’s the opposite of what most of us consider a good time.

And it’s also courageous.

Come out, come out wherever you are…

Inevitably, something unique happens with this exercise.

  1. Colleagues come out of hiding places.
  2. They discover it is safe to be seen.
  3. They feel more connected as a team than they have in years.

The power of bringing what’s been hidden to the light feels freeing. One woman used the word “validated” to describe it.

During the exercise, I recognized that “I’m not charismatic enough” was a limiting belief that contributed to my being guarded, and for five years I’ve been perfectly comfortable in my safe spot. I hadn’t taken a risk to come out to say “Olly Olly Oxen Free!” until that day.

I found that there was little cost to letting my guard down except for some initial discomfort. And then freedom was right there on its heals.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean I want to be a lead trainer! It just means that limiting belief doesn’t have power over me. I can reach my fullest potential quicker:

One does not have to be “charismatic” to be an effective teacher or trainer;

he or she just needs to show up and be authentic…and unguarded.

This is the joy of the coaching process. It’s a tool to go further, faster toward goals to help individuals reach their fullest potential, and nine times out of 10, part of that process means letting a guard down. It means being the first to say, “Here I am! Come find me!”

Take it from a hide-and-seek player, it is far more enjoyable to be authentically visible and connect with others who are too, than to hide or pretend a minute longer.

Tag! You’re it!

Reflect: What area of life do I feel guarded? What is it costing me to remain that way?

Rachel is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through International Coaching Federation (ICF) for INspired Leadership at ESSDACK. She helps professionals get where they want to be, faster. Contact her.

INspired Leadership Website

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