How come nobody gets naked anymore?
When I was little, my dad had a membership at a downtown Chicago club where he entertained clients. Occasionally he took me to the sixth-floor men’s gym, where there was a small pool and locker room, and where the men practiced rampant, unrestrained nakedness. They walked around naked, swam naked (often the backstroke, unfortunately), played cards naked, drank naked. So it figured that these guys did business naked, too. Not actually without clothes on. They conducted business transparently, although that’s not the way it was described back then. It was just the way they worked. Remember the steam baths in the movies, where the gangsters had meetings wearing nothing but their pinky rings? The shvitz, as my brethren call it. These days the shvitz is a room where people wait for their next pitch meeting with their next VC.
Is it my imagination or are we more guarded and less naked these days? Without being outwardly creepy, I’ve taken note of pre-and post-workout goings-on in the locker room at my local gym. Their laundry bills must be massive, because the number of towels guys use to cover themselves up would cover the Golden Gate Bridge. What happened to the free-swinging confident culture of putting yourself out there and presenting yourself as is? Seems like we’re covering ourselves up with more physical and emotional layers, which leads to preventing ourselves from digging in deeper to real truths that can make a difference, unearthing more interesting ideas, having deeper conversation, and more meaningful connections.
Friends, it’s time to get naked again. For two reasons, this is the perfect time to get nakeder.
For one, it’s resolution-making time. We simmer with energy and enthusiasm around pacts we make with ourselves. We hope we’ll pull them off but are afraid to admit that we may not. Resolve wisely and nakedly.
The other and more important need for increased nakedosity is the excess strife in our world, which could be directly related to the lack of honesty. It may be making fact-checkers rich but it’s not helping us get along.
So here’s a notion for you to consider. Practice a simple two-word mantra:
What if we let go of the doubts, fears and biases in our heads and nakedly said them out loud?
For example… I was wrong before, can we start over? I’m supposed to know the answer but I don’t. I’m in over my head even though I was just hired. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know how to use Slack/WebEx/Zoom /Instagram etc. I missed the email. I don’t understand the email. I don’t have email. I don’t agree with you but I’m willing to try to understand you. Please start over. I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing here… in this room, on this planet…
The amazingly wonderful thing about exposing yourself and making admissions like these is that every single one of them presents an opportunity to move forward, to open us up to further conversation, a new path forward, a smile, some goosebumps, a great idea we didn’t see coming. In life, at work, in the world.
And of course, apropos to the time of year, a fresh start.
Make 2020 a year of increased nakedness for you. Take on the philosophy of those old dudes in the shvitz, swimming naked on their backs, practicing the most radical form of honesty. Expose yourself, put yourself out there, sidestep the fear and embrace possibility. Trust others to trust you so you can do great things together.