….we can’t, except you let us!
You know, to call someone shameless sounds like a cuss word….an indictment of sorts. Sometimes when people say that to us, it might appear like they just put a knife into our belly. We lose our cool, immediately.
But again, there is an upside — to be shameless is a good asset when you are seeking to make a difference, seeking to be human and hoping to make a connection. You cannot hope to go against the status quo and to do things differently – against the kind of culture that we all share and not expect us to offer you shame. When we see you doing what we will like to do – something novel, something that raises the game to a whole new level, at our best we will show you admiration and at our worst, we will offer you shame. That’s how humans are – it’s a way we ensure that everyone stays in line and remains a part of the tribe.
An employee who will be innovative in his workplace has got to be shameless; because to stand up and speak, and make unique contributions, requires the quality of shamelessness. A young chap experimenting with an idea and hoping to give a commercial spin to his hoppy will have to be shameless because he is toying with a gig that might not work. He will have to be vulnerable enough to give his best even though society will point their fingers at him if he doesn’t succeed. That’s the risk he has to manage. A passionate change agent wanting to lead a movement to address a societal problem (the kind that others shy away from and would prefer not to talk about) will have to be shameless because once he steps out, he stands the risk of walking alone; others just might not join him. The comedian who stands before a big crowd hoping to make them laugh will have to dance with the fear and vulnerability of a possible cold response. That’s the way it is. If these blocs of people would succeed, then they must be able to isolate the instinct of shame from the result of their work – you do the work for what it is worth and not for what the audience will say. You do your thing and leave out the reaction of the audience – because it is often outside your control. That’s how professionals behave.
Until we see the experience of shame in this light and understand that shame needs someone to offer it and another to receive it to be effective, we wouldn’t know how much power we have. My point is, to do your work shamelessly is to do it with sheer confidence, not because people won’t offer you shame but because you will refuse to accept it. And that’s how to matter in today’s world.