As I write this, I’ve just learned that a highly successful public couple are set to divorce.
Their announcement has rocked their community, of which I guess I would say I’m a one-toe-in-the-water, back-of-the-crowd member.
I’ve read the books. I haven’t attended the events. I haven’t watched the frequent videos. I have listened irregularly to the podcast focused on strong relationships. I haven’t been a client of their marriage retreats.
I know enough to know that their strong marriage was one of their things.
We all have our things, of course. Things we feel called to focus on, talk about, raise awareness for, help others with.
And by choosing their strong marriage, and therefore their ability to help others develop and keep a strong marriage, this couple’s split announcement has sent shockwaves reverberating through their community.
All manner of people are now saying; hold on, I trusted you, I took your advice… if it hasn’t worked for you, why should it work for me?
And the more direct are saying; if it wasn’t working for you, why were you still packaging it and presenting it as a product?
We live in the age of the disclaimer, so here’s today’s disclaimer: some marriages should be left. I’m a complete fan of free choice and autonomy. Anyone who needs to get out of a bad marriage totally should. This isn’t an anti-divorce post, at all.
It’s an anti-inauthenticity post.
Because when we choose to live a partially public life, we set ourselves up to be admired, respected and followed. Our words aren’t more powerful than anyone else’s, but we have a louder microphone.
Better make those words count.
There are things I would never focus my own voice on, and there are things I wouldn’t focus my voice on during a particular season of life.
During a difficult work period years ago, I became silent on the subject.
When my weight is heavier than I’d like, I’m not here spouting healthy eating tips.
And I never really talk about marriage stuff. Not because that area is always hard in my life, not that at all, but because I don’t think I have any unique message to share on the subject. Marriages are hard, they require work, and some of them are meant for a season, not a lifetime. The End. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
I believe in every public persona’s right to live a private life. Heck yeah. Fame doesn’t mean the world is entitled to break into your house and rifle through your closets.
When you’re announcing your divorce after problems that, you share, have lasted for years… and that announcement comes just weeks after you publicly declaring your relationship is in a stronger place than ever, and packaging your reasons why as part of a brand that people buy into with real life dollars during an actual pandemic… your authenticity needs checking.
You may not have an audience of this size, you may not have a life change of this magnitude, but if you’re living any kind of public life (and let’s remember that fame isn’t found in the box office now, it’s found one blog reader at a time, one IG follower at a time, one YouTube subscriber at a time), this example may be a prompt for you to consider the elements of your life that you are making public.
If you’re a weight loss coach, and your weight has ballooned during lockdown, maybe it’s time to open up about those struggles instead of glossing over them.
People tend to be forgiving. In fact, your stumbles will bring your audience closer to you.
But if you gloss over the hard times to the extent that you’re effectively living two separate lives that contradict each other, your audience will realise at some point. Trust will be broken.
It’s not worth the risk.