“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself”. (Miles Davis)

When we think unplugged, we think of musicians. We use the term when they give up all their technological advantages—the lights, electric guitars, speakers, amplifiers, media background, etc., and go back to their acoustic or box guitar and a microphone. There is nothing to create an illusion, nothing fancy, nothing to amplify their presentation beyond a mic. It’s just the basics—just like when they started out.

Let’s apply that to our lives. There are times we need to get back to the basics, go back and connect to our roots, and remember where we started—in other words—UNPLUG.

It’s easy to augment our lives with props—fancy adornments we actually come to believe. It can seem like a necessary coping mechanism for acceptance, or even survival. In reality it’s a snare—a trap. To others it can seem we are putting on airs. In fact they seem to appreciate us more when we are simply ourselves—when we are who we were created to be—unplugged, relaxed, and unwound. No props, no posing, no pretending, no pretense.

In our inner circle of friends being unplugged is essential or authentic connections are distorted. When distortions are corrected trust is experienced. We are completely ourselves knowing that we will be accepted and appreciated. Then the counterintuitive happens. Others feel appreciated and accepted and are drawn to the melody.

The irony is that when we unplug from the props, we then plug into people—our relationships—face to face. To steal a line from Avatar—“I see you”—which means I see you, hear you, feel you, get you.

To be unplugged is to be honest, real, humble. But don’t misunderstand. Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less. It’s to be authentic—a common and sometimes over used word today that simply means, be yourself.

Authentic comes from the word author. You are the author of your life. You have no need to plagiarize someone else’s life. We want you–LIVE! No hidden agendas. When you know who you are, then you can simply BE who you are. Nothing more, nothing less. And this means you are AWE-thentic! You are awesome! It’s a presentation of yourself with no personality makeup or rehearsed projections or persona masks.

Then an amazing thing takes place. We discover that instead of “proving ourselves”, we are simply “expressing ourselves”. I know that in my life I can sense whether I’m expressing or proving. I find I do so much better when I leave playbacks, echo chambers, and equalizers at home. Coming to you LIVE! And that’s it. I bring my enthusiasm, but not my Photoshop. I’m unplugged, but plugged in.

You know the feeling. When music is unplugged, it’s plugged in. There is a flow of inspiration as the melody reaches the deepest accesses of our hearts. We feel closer to the source. It goes much deeper than when it’s “tricked” up.

With all the iPhones, iPads, iPods, we can become an iPerson. Being unplugged also means we control our gadgets, making sure our friends don’t mutate into iPals.

How refreshing to be able to speak from the heart. No need to fake it until you make it. Just the opposite. You are now making it by NOT faking it. Without that I cannot plug into you or the needs that surround me.

Then something remarkable takes place—we grow together.

And that connection is AMAZING.

(Mick Ukleja is the co-author of the book Who Are You? What Do You Want?: Four Questions That Will Change Your Life)

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