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  • The chances are

  • you've looked in at least one mirror today.

  • You've had a shave, or you combed your hair,

  • or maybe you checked your teeth for spinach after lunch,

  • but what you didn't know

  • is that the face looking back at you

  • isn't the face that everybody else sees.

  • It's a kind of reversed, distorted,

  • back-to-front image.

  • Some years ago, I was on a flight to New York,

  • and I read an article in the FT,

  • and it was an article about a phenomenon called a True Mirror -

  • and for the Americans listening, that's a mirror.

  • The True Mirror was actually invented

  • by a brother and sister team in New York,

  • called John and Catherine Walters.

  • What they discovered is if you take two mirrors,

  • and you put them together at right angles,

  • and you take the seam away,

  • the images bounce off each other.

  • What you see when you look in a True Mirror

  • is exactly what other people see when they look at you.

  • So, I land in New York, and I phone John up,

  • and ask him if I can go and see him,

  • and I end up in his gallery in Brooklyn;

  • it was like being at a sideshow in the circus.

  • There were True Mirrors

  • full length, face sized, all over this gallery.

  • When I walked over to the True Mirror for the first time,

  • and I looked in the mirror,

  • it was one of the most disorientating experiences I've ever had in my life.

  • The first thing you notice when you look in a True Mirror

  • is that your head's not on straight.

  • Yours is kind of going that way,

  • and yours is quite straight actually,

  • and yours is going that way a wee bit;

  • so apparently most of us tilt our heads one way or another.

  • So when you approach a True Mirror,

  • the first thing you try and do is fix your head,

  • but, of course, because it's reversed you go the wrong way;

  • so it's very, very disorientating.

  • But more importantly, I had a flashback.

  • I had a flashback to when I was a wee girl.

  • I grew up in Glasgow -

  • in case you haven't noticed, I am Scottish.

  • I grew up in Glasgow, and my mom,

  • when she was putting her makeup on,

  • I used to love sitting and watching my mom putting her makeup on,

  • you know, with my chin in my hands.

  • And I would tell her occasionally:

  • "Isn't it funny how one side of your top lip

  • is higher than the other side of your top lip?"

  • She'd look in the mirror and she'd say, "It is not."

  • And I'd say: "No, it's only a couple of millimeters,

  • but that side of your cupid's bow is definitely higher

  • than the other side of your cupid's bow."

  • She'd say, "Caroline, you're havering."

  • When I looked in the True Mirror,

  • there was the lip

  • that I had been wearing, at that time, for maybe 45 years,

  • and I'd never seen it.

  • The difference is when you look in a regular mirror,

  • you look for reassurance.

  • You look for reassurance that you're beautiful,

  • or you're young, or you're tidy,

  • or your bum doesn't look big in that.

  • But when you look in a True Mirror,

  • you don't look at yourself,

  • you look for yourself.

  • You look for revelation, not for reassurance.

  • And this was deeply interesting to me

  • because what I do for a living is I help people be themselves.

  • Not in any narcissistic or solipsistic way,

  • but because I believe that social reformation begins,

  • always starts with the individual.

  • When you look at remarkable individuals -

  • and when I say remarkable or successful individuals,

  • I don't mean monetarily successful;

  • I mean people that have been successful

  • at achieving whatever they set out to do -

  • you'll find that the thing they have in common

  • is they have nothing in common.

  • These are people who, you know,

  • work in many of the fields I work in.

  • I work with people in corporations,

  • I work with captains of industry,

  • I work with selected politicians.

  • I've worked with geophysicists.

  • I've worked with chamber orchestras

  • and ballet dancers and pop star and opera singers,

  • and I've identified the thread that links them.

  • These are individuals who've managed to figure out the unique gift

  • that the universe gave them when they incarnated,

  • and then put that at the service of their goals.

  • I think that we all come complete.

  • We come complete with one true note we were destined to sing,

  • and these are people that have managed to figure that out.

  • It doesn't dictate your choice of job;

  • what it dictates is how you do it.

  • When we see these people

  • we invariably call them larger than life.

  • You know, you'll see somebody like Roberto Benigni,

  • and you'll say, "Oh my goodness."

  • Eve Ensler, she's larger than life,

  • which always makes me smile

  • because how could you be larger than life?

  • Life is large.

  • But most of us don't take up

  • nearly the space the universe intended for us.

  • We take up this wee space around our toes,

  • which is why when you see somebody in the full flow of their humanity,

  • it's remarkable.

  • They're at least a foot bigger in every direction

  • than normal human beings, and they shine,

  • they gleam,

  • they glow;

  • it's like they've swallowed the moon.

  • And all the work I've done has led me to believe

  • that individuality really is all it's cracked up to be.

  • In fact, people who are frightened to be themselves

  • will work for those who aren't afraid.

  • Now your job is not to be anything like any of the people

  • that I put up behind me.

  • In fact your job is to be as unlike them as you can possibly be.

  • Your only job while you're here on the planet

  • is to be as good at being you

  • as they are at being them.

  • That's the deal.

  • So I want to start today by asking you

  • an incredibly personal question.

  • Not the one that says,

  • "Why are there so many syllables in the word 'monosyllabic'?". No.

  • Not even the one that says,

  • "Did you know that Britney Spears is an anagram for Presbyterian?". No.

  • (Laughter)

  • Something a wee bit more pivotal.

  • In fact, this is a question that's been looking for you your whole life.

  • It's probably the simplest

  • and the most complicated question you'll ever ask.

  • Yet how many times in your life

  • has somebody offered you that well-meaning piece of advice

  • that you should just be yourself?

  • How many times have you said it to somebody else?

  • One of your kids comes to you, or one of your team comes to you,

  • and they tell you they're nervous, they're scared.

  • They have to go and do something and their bold goes,

  • and you say to them, "Darlin', just be yourself,

  • because when you're yourself, you're fabulous."

  • Now it always resonates because it's all we want to do.

  • If you tell John to be himself,

  • he doesn't want to be Mary.

  • He's quite happy being himself,

  • but it's the use of the word "just" that I find interesting

  • because it would imply two things.

  • Number one, that that was an easy thing to do.

  • Number two, that it was an original piece of advice.

  • You know, John had never thought about it himself.

  • When it comes to being yourself,

  • when it comes to being in the world,

  • the minute you showed up,

  • the minute you incarnated,

  • you were given a life sentence.

  • Now, you don't know how long you have.

  • Maybe you have 70 years, and I have 62.

  • We've no idea how long we have.

  • Although, where you're born,

  • when you're born, to whom you're born,

  • all these things have a certain influence

  • or impact on how you become who you become.

  • If you're born in Switzerland,

  • chances are you've got a long time to figure this shit out.

  • If you're born in Zimbabwe or some parts of Glasgow,

  • and I'm not kidding, you've got significantly less time.

  • So what I want you to think about is not what your life expectancy is,

  • but what do you expect from life?

  • And what does life expect from you?

  • Those are more interesting questions.

  • And the two places in life where you are awesome at being yourself,

  • you're fantastic at being yourself,

  • one of them is when you're a kid.

  • When you're a kid, you're fantastic at being yourself

  • because you don't know how to disguise your differentness.

  • That's why you see kids on the beach,

  • you know, naked up until the age of five,

  • and then suddenly at the age of six or seven

  • they want a bathing suit, they want a bikini.

  • Who's got a four-year-old boy?

  • Anybody's got a four-year-old boy?

  • I'll take a three-year-old.

  • Jose, you've got a three-year-old boy.

  • I want you to imagine I go into Eduardo's class in school,

  • and it's a class of three-year-old boys,

  • and I say to the boys, "Who's the strongest boy in the class?"

  • What's going to happen?

  • Every hand, right?

  • Every single hand in the class will go up.

  • They'll be competitively strong.

  • If I go into the same class,

  • but it's full of seven-year-old boys, and ask the same question,

  • they'll say, "Him," because they know by time they're seven.

  • He's the strong one,

  • he's the fastest runner,

  • he's the funny guy,

  • he's the bully.

  • Society archetype emerges

  • around about the age of five, six, seven, eight.

  • That's why the Jesuits say,

  • "Give me a boy until the age of seven, and I'll show you the man,"

  • because that's the birth of consciousness.

  • And from then on you become more self-conscious

  • and by default less good at being yourself.

  • The other place you're fantastic at being yourself

  • is when you're a wrinkley,

  • because you can't be arsed.

  • You get to that stage in your life

  • where you realize there are more summers behind you

  • than there are in front of you,

  • and everything intensifies.

  • You become more honest;

  • you become less compromising.

  • So you're going to tell people,

  • "I don't want the spinach, I'm not going to eat it, I don't like it.

  • And I don't like jazz, so you can shut that noise off.

  • And while I'm at it, I don't like you!"

  • (Laughter)

  • We call these people "eccentric."

  • We call our oldies "eccentric."

  • In fact, what they're doing is being authentic.

  • So it's kind of like an hourglass effect:

  • when you're young you're great at being yourself;

  • when you're old you're great at being yourself;

  • but the bit in the middle is sometimes the most problematic.

  • That's the bit where you have to socialize;

  • you have to accommodate; you have to adapt.

  • So I've developed the "I complex,"

  • and the "I complex" is a model to help you figure out

  • which "I" you mean when you say "I."

  • You're very familiar with the superiority complex.

  • If you have a superiority complex, you pretty much think

  • you're the most important person in the room.

  • If you've got an inferiority complex

  • you suffer from an over-modest self-regard.

  • These are both signs of a fragile ego.

  • One of them is about delusions of grandeur,

  • and the other one delusions of insignificance.

  • There's a third way of being in the world,

  • and I call it "interiority;"

  • this is one of my made-up words.

  • The word "interiority" describes a particular disposition,

  • and there are two reasons it might be useful to you.

  • Number one, it's completely uncomparative.

  • If you have a superiority complex or an inferiority complex

  • you need other people around.

  • For a superiority complex

  • you need other people to be smaller.

  • For an inferiority complex you need to suffer

  • from the I'm-gonna-be-found-out syndrome,