It’s been difficult to avoid the media maelstrom surrounding the transition of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. For me, it had some personal resonance because about 8 years ago, when our daughter, Lily, was 14, she came out as gay.
I recall being completely caught off guard. Lily had been a tomboy, skater-girl, always pushing the envelope. She also professed an interest in boys, had boyfriends, at least to the extent 12 and 13-year-olds have them. It never occurred to me, or any of us, that she was gay.
Of course, the way she came out was not the most well thought out, which is, again, the adolescent brain at work. During her freshman year “tolerance day,” she announced it during open mic to 600 of her fellow freshmen and teachers. I got wind of it on Facebook, where it was not explicitly mentioned, but I knew something momentous was going on. (our FB deal was that she could use it, but we had to be “friends” so I could spy.)
After much digging and asking and guessing on our part, her guidance counselor advised her that she had to tell her parents, who were so worried about her. She was not happy about that, so angry. All we wanted to do was protect her from the hate and prejudice we knew would be coming her way and , in fact, already had.
What didn’t get said then, naturally, was how our own perceptions had to suddenly change. How our hopes and dreams for her future were irrevocably altered. Because while the individual has been wrestling with the issue for quite some time, the people around them remain clueless. So when she announced who she really was, outwardly we were supportive (and we honestly felt that way), but inwardly, we were terrified. We needed to be there for her during this incredibly difficult time, as parents always do, and it was for the long haul.
The happy ending (so far) is Lily just received her B.F.A., turned 22, has a Tumblr following in the 10s of thousands, a very satisfying social life with lovely friends of all stripes. This is due to her ability to know who she is and be confident in it, accompanied by our ability to be led by her. In other words, her future is bright, we are a happy and loving family who know, for better or worse, what it means to be adaptable, sometimes very quickly.
What does any of this have to do with business? We are in a period of very rapid change. There are a variety of points of view. We need to be flexible in our thinking to survive and thrive as professionals. It is scary and very, very threatening. It can be exhausting. There are plenty of naysayers, haters, who will tell you you’re doing it wrong, that your POV is illegitimate. You have to know whom to trust and listen to. Those who do not adapt will be left out.
Don’t let that happen. Know what you know. Follow your passion. Project it with confidence. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Keep at it. Love your family. It is so satisfying.