A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of celebrating my girlfriend’s 50th birthday. Her party was a Mardi Gras theme, so most of the attendees wore masks. It was very interesting to interact with people, not really knowing who they were until they revealed themselves. It got me to thinking about how, many of us, in or day-to-day lives, wear “masks.” They may not be elaborate as the ones we wore, but they are masks, nonetheless. We go through great lengths to minimize our chances of being “seen.” Not externally, but internally. We’re afraid to allow people to see the “real” us. We somehow think that if we’re vulnerable, we must be weak. That is so far from the truth. Our ability to be transparent is what makes us effective. We can serve at a greater capacity if we lose the masks of pretension, pride, arrogance, fear, low self-esteem, etc. Instead, our gifts will illuminate and not be dimmed in the spotlight of our masks. You know the other interesting thing about the mask? It was uncomfortable! No matter how I pulled, tugged or adjusted it, it felt better OFF than on. And the same can be said about the proverbial masks we may wear on a daily basis. Although not readily admitted, being on guard or in hiding is uncomfortable, not to mention exhausting! So what’s the solution? Tell everybody all of your business?! Of course not! But what I do recommend is that you practice being genuine. If you’re afraid or lonely or sad or happy to see someone, say so (in the appropriate context, of course). Don’t allow your fear of other people’s opinions to turn you into a robot. The real gift in unmasking is the rich ability to connect with people on a greater level, thus increasing your effectiveness & ability to utilize your gifts to their highest potential. I don’t know about you, but I think that is well worth un-masking.