In explaining our sense of self-worth and authentic self, I really like one of the illustrations which I first heard from Michael Neill’s audiobook Effortless Success, where he used the metaphor of the diamond, horse shit and the nail polish.
Imagine the three layers: a diamond, which is covered with horse shit. And on top of that, it is painted and coated with a thick layer of nail polish.
The diamond represents our authentic self – who we really are. The horse shit represents all our insecurities, self-doubts, fears – who we fear we are. And the thick layer of nail polish represents the self that we project to the world – who we pretend to be. Can you see the three layers?
For most people, our sense of self-worth is false – we’re looking at the nail polish instead of the diamonds in us. It’s because we fear the others could see the crap in us, we put on a thick layer of polish in attempt to “fake it till we make it”.
Many people’s nail polish could be in the forms of positions and titles, a desk they sit behind that represents their authority and status. And for others, it could be wealth and properties, things they possess to show to the world to see their worth. Still for others, it could even be religious piety, like a great ivory tower which symbolizes moral authority, this is where they hide themselves in.
We try to get all the help we can from the self-help industry and self-improvement gurus, and what most of them do is to paint a thicker and more beautiful nail polish over the crap. Some even sell nice “fragrance”, attempting to cover the smell of the poo. Still other experts say they can help you to get rid of all the crap.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not uneffective to deal at the layers of horse shit and nail polish (the outside-in approach). But there is another way that is more joyful, effortless and powerful. Why not start from the inside-out?
Have you discovered the diamond in you? Who are you really, on the inside? Who are you when you’re not trying to be somebody? Why hide your authentic self behind all that expensive masks?
Here’s a perfect spot for a famous quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” ~ Marianne Williamson
Great question. Who are you not to be?
Inside-Out Transformational Work
I believe great transformational works always begin from the inside-out. They deal at the layer of diamonds. It’s a deep learning of self-discovery – an inner journey that brings out the best in you.
The Inside-Out approach is less about covering your “diamond” with layers of “nail polish” (I don’t deny that it can give you quick wins sometimes), it’s more about helping you to get out of the way of your brilliant self – your authentic self.
Tired of all the horse crap and covering them with layers after layers of nail polish? How would you like to deepen your discovery and awareness of your authentic self and “hang out” with him/her more often? It starts with this simple understanding that the metaphor promotes.
As I’m deepening my understanding into the inside out approach of coaching and living, I’ll write more to share of my learning and experiences. In the meantime, remember what Rihanna’s song says, “Shine bright like a diamond!” Just remember the diamond is not out there in the sky, it’s inside you and me.