Honesty rather than ‘spin’ really does open doors!
While I’ve never had the privilege of meeting the famous Scottish comedian, Billy Connelly, I feel like I’ve experienced the next best thing. Billy Strachan, also from Scotland, was the Principal of the college I attended in the North of England where I studied theology. In his former life Strachan had walked the boards as a comedian, sometimes in drag. While his vocation had obviously changed dramatically by the time I met him, the comedy routines would slip out from time to time during lectures and have us all in fits of laughter.
Strachan had a tough background and, when he earned his living as an entertainer, the bottle was his constant companion. His usual habit after a show was to go on a drinking binge that would often result in him sleeping rough on the streets.
This background gave Billy an edge as a Principal that was quite rare; an honesty that was brutal; an openness that left me both speechless and relieved. Here was a person with the courage to be real about his own weaknesses and failure; not someone standing on a high moral pedestal but someone who was a lot more like me. Early in the teaching term half the student body loved this approach and half hated it. By the end of term we all loved Billy for his realness.
What is it about people that often causes us to be less than truthful with one another? Possibly the fear of being seen as less than what we would like others to believe about us. Or the desire to project a perfection that falls in line with the hype of our Facebook posts or the coolness of our Instagram images.
On Friday mornings I meet with a bunch of guys for breakfast and the best of these times take place when someone dares to be real about their life. You’d think that such a move would be disastrous. It is in fact the very thing that makes us all relax. And shed tears. And laugh. And support one another in our mutually declared brokenness. Honesty, especially in the context of friendship, opens doors and enables us to experience life in some of the richest ways possible.
Scottish comedians like Billy – and Billy – inspire us with the courage to make the first move.