The Emperor's New Clothes
Since childhood The Emperor’s New Clothes has always been my favorite story. I identified so closely with the little boy who had the courage to speak his truth even when everyone else in the village was unwilling to. As the story goes, the swindling weavers convinced the emperor and villagers that only those who were smart and competent could see the beautiful fabric being spun and the vestments being constructed. The swindlers deftly planted seeds of self doubt and communal uncertainty deeply enough that everyone bought into the lie. No one really believed it, but everyone believed that everyone else believed it and so they silenced themselves and said nothing.
It’s an interesting parable and one worth reflecting on. How often do we fall victim to others’ persuasion and compromise our own internal wisdom, especially if we feel threatened, scared, or inadequate? One of the important developmental tasks of adolescence is to rise above peer pressure in decision making. But as adults we are still are vulnerable to the influence of others. Often people say “I don’t care what others’ think” but that’s not entirely true. I care what those close to me think, because I cannot always see myself clearly and I trust them to share their perspective. When they tell me something, I’m glad because I certainly don’t want to be traipsing around without clothes! But I trust those people and know they have my best interest at heart. On the other hand, there is an active skeptic inside me who rejects what doesn’t make sense or if I suspect the intention is not in authentic. It’s a matter of thoughtful discernment.
As a coach, one of my primary responsibilities is to help people tap their internal wisdom and find their voice. Speaking our truth is important, not only for ourselves but for our community. This doesn’t mean it’s a combative, confrontational declaration of rightness, but rather a sharing of different perspectives and a willingness to listen carefully on important issues and seeking to understand. Channeling the courage of the young boy to speak up is a gift, listening with an open mind and open heart is opening the gift.
Another pertinent application of the moral of this story can be applied to the current state of politics in our country. We can quickly fall victim to believing what others believe (in spite of our own better judgment) when were told something over and over and shown colorful graphics of skewed statistics that substantiate a particular point of view. I would encourage you to listen openly to the “other” side (as hard as it may be), turn off the media echo chamber, make sure the words reflect the actions of those you’re supporting and have the courage to see things from your own unique perspective.
- Are you more like a villager or the little boy? Do you easily speak up or more reluctant to express your opinion? Why?
- Do you have people close to you who can be really honest with you and help you become your best self?
Thinking about coaching ? Contact me and we can explore how it can help you become your best self. marleneboas.com or 419-357-7023