Full disclosure: this is not a photo of Bev and me.

Full disclosure: this is not a photo of Bev and me.

You never know what effect a simple act of honesty will have on the life of another person.

My defining moment

Bev Nerenberg and I go back about three lifetimes. Also her husband, Lowell Nerenberg, but I digress.

I’ll never forget the first time I sat down with Bev.  It was 2002. (I was 12 years old. What!? I was!)

Bev and I had met at a tradeshow and decided to follow up over coffee.

I was new in business and had created my very first piece of collateral – a rather formal, stuffy flyer with a list of services and a couple of testimonials.  It was totally devoid of anything resembling a design (or a personality).

Bev and I got comfy, then I walked her through my flyer.  She made a face at me.

It wasn’t the kind of face you want to see in this situation. She was sizing me up.

Bev said, “Can I be honest with you?”

I faked it. “Of course!”

“Look,” she said, in her characteristic straight-shooter tone, “I don’t know who this flyer goes with, but it’s not you. You are so much better than this.”

I was speechless.

She went on. “I look at you and I see a bubbly, vivacious, passionate person.  And this flyer is anything but.”

That conversation changed my life

If you know me IRL, you know I’m different.  Blending in is not something I do.  But I wasn’t always this way.

As I’ve written about elsewhere, I spent most of my life trying to be one of the girls.  Don’t rock the boat, don’t stick your neck out, don’t try to be different.  In fact, be invisible if you can, because no one will accept you.

Bev’s honesty set me on the path to the woman you see today – confident, self-assured, and insistent that her true self shines through. It didn’t happen over night, but it happened.  Because of Bev.

Here’s the important bit

I recently had the opportunity to share this story with Bev, and you know what?  She didn’t even remember the conversation.

People, you never know.  And you probably never will.

Remember this

Someday soon, you’re going to have to make a choice.  Are you going to take the blue pill or the red pill? No wait, that’s something else.

You’re going to have to decide whether to tell someone the truth or to smooth things over. You’re going to have to decide if an inauthentic relationship is worth having.

Remember this story in that moment.  Your decision could change a life.  Let it.