This time of year, it seems everybody is excited about getting outdoors. Summer is very near and (hopefully) good weather will allow for us to move our life from the inside to the out. For many of us the last few months have been full of looking through the window and trying to remember what outdoors is like. In many ways we have lived through the months as window shoppers in a winter wonder land imagining a beach, a park, a baseball field or a golf course. Of course looking through a window is not the same as actually playing outdoors, but thankfully glass makes it possible to put the imagination into action on even the dreariest of winter days. Windows help us see outside and allow light to penetrate our indoor existence. Windows help us see the world in a new way as walls and doors are stripped of their isolating power. Windows change our world because they are transparent.
Transparency is really the goal. Windows are just the tools that makes transparency possible. No one wants to be a window, but it seems that everyone should desire to be transparent in their relationships and interpersonal dealings. The ability to be and live transparently will make our world vastly different, as the warmth and clarity of light shines into and then through us towards others. Transparent leaders permit others to see them as they are instead of hiding behind walls or mirages of togetherness. Without transparency reality is tainted and relationships are fake.
People who are not transparent will never make the deep connection with others that is necessary to build a strong support network. Parents who are not transparent with their children raise their kids to walk in the shadows and hide who they really are. Leaders who are not transparent will never be fully trusted and will find followers abandoning their ship. Refusing to be transparent in life will guarantee that you will always be a solo act. Life without transparency is like riding your bike at night on a highway full of cars with no street lights while wearing a blind fold and no brakes. Danger and downfall looms straight ahead.
So where does one start when wanting to be more transparent? The starting point is not to be “all out there” with every thought, word, and deed. Transparency is not spilling your guts to everybody or in every situation. Transparency is born when we are committed to honesty, humility, and reflection with ourselves. In other words, we can never expect to be transparent with others until we are transparent with ourselves. Transparency starts with self-awareness as we take a look and evaluate what we see in our heart, our mind, our soul. Simply put: if you want to be transparent outwardly, begin with a deep inward look.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Are you “present” when you are with others or are you consumed with your needs, desires, problems?
- Are you on guard with people you meet? What about with people you have known for a long time?
- Do you have an agenda with every conversation to get something for yourself or have something your way?
- Is your success in life (family, work, etc.) dependent on others failing or falling short?
These may be more than enough questions to make us aware of how ‘self’ affects our relationships with others. Transparency calls for us to set aside our ambitions and our agendas if they affect others in a negative way. Cultures that value transparency (work, family, church, etc.) recognize that something greater than the achievement of one person or one segment of society is at work.
Transparency requires training because it is much more natural for us to be closed and guarded. Transparent leaders train themselves to be authentic witnesses of help and hope to others because success is never a solo act or accomplishment. Transparent leaders train themselves to live around a window that lets others see them for who they are and what they are like inwardly. Transparent leaders train themselves to remember that they are only a window to the Source of True Light ready to shine through them into a world stumbling in the darkness.