Shabnam Gideon

Standards: Keep It Real

Every one of our Core Standards is based on treating people, including one’s self, like people. Sounds like a no-brainer, eh? I bet you’ve encountered people or situations in which you’ve felt as though you weren’t getting the full story, or maybe one in which you’ve felt you couldn’t be your true self. At Focus Lab, we acknowledge that those moments are out there, and so we do our best to create interactions that allow each person involved to feel comfortable shining through.


A quick survey of the folks in the office today posed this very same question: “One of our Standards is Keep It Real. What does that mean to you?” Among the answers I received, two were the most frequent:

Be honest.
Be yourself.

I also was the amused recipient of the following anecdote: “You know how with your spouse you can say, ‘Dude, your breath STINKS.’ but with a stranger you might not say anything? It’s like that kind of real.”

Based on this obviously very formal survey, I’d postulate that we practice Keeping It Real in 3 key ways:

“...We do our best to create interactions that allow each person involved to feel comfortable shining through.”

  1. Be honest.
    Telling the truth when asked a specific question is one type of honesty. Telling the whole truth, not withholding information, and sharing what needs to be shared regardless of whether you were asked, that’s the type of honesty we’re talking about here. We don’t just talk about transparency, we practice it. This type of honesty breeds respect and trust, which fosters our interpersonal and client relationships.
  2. Be yourself.
    We try to be ourselves, and encourage you to do the same. We know that every person has a full life outside of our encounters, and we believe that our working relationships are strengthened by communicating on a personal and authentic level. Being one’s self means acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, and allowing for the same in others, creating a diverse yet collaborative environment.
  3. Be aware.
    I chose this third practice because I feel that Keeping It Real also includes being conscious of how your own words and actions might be received by someone else. I don’t mean to say that you should base what you do or say on others, but I believe that two people can experience the same reality in very different ways, and so a key leveling factor is cultivating the awareness and humility to accept and allow, and sometimes even anticipate, another person’s response. This awareness can make the difference between a confrontation and a conversation, and we all know the conversation is the more comfortable and productive situation.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them... Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

- Lao Tzu

So, say it like it is, because people are people, indiscriminately, and deserve respect, honesty and transparency, straight up. And be prepared to receive the same, because you know that an honest comment is WAY easier to receive than an insincere one. With that, here's to Keeping It Real.

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