When my girls were growing up, I used to reflect that each of them had a stealth side – the one that took people by surprise, but was an incredibly important part of their whole self. The child who was quiet, studious, eager to please and measured in her responses turned out to also be an extraordinary adventurer. She stage-managed plays but wouldn’t be caught dead on one. Then, she worked – alone – as an itinerant farming volunteer one summer, and as I write this is living in a mud hut (a one bedroom, not a studio!) in a very rural village in West Africa. Her sister, seemed to be born looking for the stage lights, couldn’t sit still for long, and her kinetic and beautiful energy is evident when she enters a room. “Just watch,”, I used to tell my husband, “…she’s a stealth student.” Sure enough, she did incredibly well in school – just as her more “obvious” sibling did, and has been singled out for her academic rigor.
My parental pride aside, what I’ve noticed is that we all have stealth sides – not necessarily the personality traits we lead with, but those that define us and our values in important ways. It’s what makes us whole and what makes us interesting. The buttoned-up attorney who lets loose when listening to the Grateful Dead, and can tell you when and where every single song was recorded. The genteel family physician who sports vaguely Rastafarian hats on the weekends when out and about. The ultra-chic beauty executive who is the best and most badass soccer coach around. You get the idea.
In my coaching work, I try to enable my clients to identify all of the attributes that make up their whole self, and how they can bring it – really bring it – to everything they do. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a time a place for certain things (no crocheted rainbow berets in the examining room!) but it does encourage us to think about how our talents and gifts can be best shared.