One of the tools Challenge Day is best known for is an activity called "If you really knew me." Though most people don't start by disclosing their deepest secrets, completing this simple phrase has the power to literally transform shallow "chit-chat" into intimate conversations with life-changing opportunities for depth and connection.

Oprah called our work simple. And she's right. This tool and the others in the book can be used everywhere by everyone. We particularly like to use the "If you really knew me" tool at the dinner table with family and friends. We use it to open every meeting in our Challenge Day office. We use it to bring people close at parties and other social events. In our experience, the more open and honest we are willing to be, the more intimate and connected we become. The simplicity of this lead-in sentence naturally opens a doorway to a vulnerability and truth that generates a level of understanding we all crave.

Many of us live our lives as if we are icebergs floating aimlessly in the sea of life, and largely submerged. We hide most of ourselves, and especially our most tender, secret places, far below the surface, or what we like to call "the waterline." Like a typical iceberg we show only about 10 percent of ourselves, the part above the water. For the purposes of this discussion, let's call this 10 percent our image.

"Dropping the waterline" and getting real means facing most peoples' biggest fear—rejection. We're so afraid of being rejected we often even hide who we really are from the people closest to us. For some, this looks like acting hard or tough, keeping secrets, being cool, being a jokester, or maybe even pretending we don't care about anything at all.

Many of us get stuck trying to live up to an image we believe will be acceptable to others. We fall into groups or cliques and learn to label ourselves and other people in ways that seem to define how we should act and what we should let people see—jock, stoner, cheerleader, socialite, geek, loser, gangster, executive, coach, parent, etc.

We often feel so ashamed or embarrassed that we are afraid if anyone really knew us, they could never love or accept us.

If you never take the risk of dropping the waterline and letting people see who you really are, you can never feel all the love, celebration and acceptance you deserve. The only way you can experience authentic intimacy and connection with others is to risk exposing your true self.


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