"Authenticity empowers you to remain true to yourself regardless of where you are and what you're doing." — Jonas Cain
Hashtag Positivity can help you and the people you lead achieve growth by design through community engagement, leadership development, and change management. Schedule your free consultation today.
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Three frogs sat on a log.
One day, one of the frogs decided it was time to jump off the log and swim in the water.
How many frogs were left on the log?
You would think there would now be only two frogs, yet there still remained three, for the frog who wanted to swim only decided that’s what it wanted to do, and never acted on its decisions.
It can be easy to pass judgement on the frog for lacking the confidence and courage to stay true to its authentic self, but I know what it’s like to hesitate even when you know you should be doing something else, because in 2015 I became a frog on a log.
It all started three years earlier at the Front Street Cafe in Salem, MA—the so-called “Witch City” and Halloween capital of New England.
It was a cool late-summer morning and my colleague, Chris, proposed an idea for a haunted magic show to present to the October tourists. He had long-dreamed of doing such a show, and that year he finally decided to make it happen. But he wanted a partner. After all, as the saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
At the time, I was at a crossroads, having just moved to the city and looking for what was next, so I jumped at the opportunity. Chris had already done much of the legwork to get it started. The show had been written and ticket sales had already started to come in, so I could easily step in and help take it to the finish line.
With multiple sold-out performances throughout October, it was an exhausting, exhilarating, and lucrative season. And when it was all over we immediately began planning for the next season, spending an entire year in preparation writing, producing, and marketing a new show.
And that’s how it went for three seasons, with each year more successful than the last, but despite the success—despite how much fun it was and how much money we were making—there was a growing feeling inside me that something wasn’t right.
When an apple finds itself in an orange orchard, it can be tempting for the apple to simply go with the flow, paint itself orange, and avoid the discomfort of being different. Especially when the oranges pay well.
But after some honest reflection, I came to understand that the reward for concentrating on the wrong work simply isn’t worth the effort, and to instead focus on who I am at my authentic core is far more appealing.
From the beginning, the vision had called for a dark and scary magic show—a haunted house on stage—but nothing is dark and scary about me. I want the people I serve to feel hopeful, not dreadful; I want to leave them laughing and smiling, not cringing and crying.
I had bought into someone else’s vision, planting my seeds in someone else’s orchard, and while there’s certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with following someone else’s lead, doing so can lead you astray when it’s not in alignment with who you are.
And so after the third season I made the difficult but necessary decision to move on from the Salem magic show. But as the frog on a log teaches us, deciding and actually following through are two different things, and I let Chris talk me into staying on for a fourth season.
And it was a big mistake.
Every time you say Yes to what you don’t want, it’s the same as saying No to what you really want; every task you put in your schedule is a stop sign to anything and everything else you could be doing with that time; and every dollar you invest in something is a dollar more that can’t be invested in anything else.
That fourth season of the Salem show was our most lucrative, but it was also the most stressful—not the least of which was because I was not living up to my true authentic self. I was no better off than that frog on a log.
The lesson was a challenging one to learn, but serves as a valuable reminder that if you don’t like where you’re headed, then it’s time to get off the bus and walk.
In what area of your life are you a frog on a log? Under what circumstances have you been painting yourself orange to hide from your true self? When will you have the courage to get off the bus and walk?
Hashtag Positivity can help you and the people you lead achieve growth by design through community engagement keynotes and assemblies, leadership development workshops, and change management coaching. Schedule your free consultation today.
Jonas Cain is an instructional designer, facilitator of fascination, and purveyor of positivity—helping to initiate and manage positive change for individual, team, and community growth.