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  • Olivier S.E. Courtois

Who Is Your Imaginary Audience?

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

David Elkind coined the term "imaginary audience" in 1967. It is considered to be a psychological phenomenon mostly observable in adolescence. When we grow adult, we are expected to unchain. But have we really? I have often observed how we shape our beliefs and build our lives in reaction to an imaginary audience. The audience can be a social, ethnic or religious category that we identify with. Or a small group (our parents, our siblings). Or a single person (a father, a mother, an uncle, someone we admire(d). Subconsciously, our imaginary audience dictates our behaviors more than we are ready to admit. When we become leaders, because of the impact we have around us, we need to reflect upon the influence of that audience on our belief systems and hence on our behaviors and decisions. True, we are all the result of multiple influences. But it is necessary to keep our audience at a reasonable distance. So that we can hear our own voice. If it is too close, it takes awareness, insight, and courage to deal with it. Sometimes, the audience has passed away but we still hear its voice loud and clear. Other times, it is still around. In all cases, as leaders, we must revisit our past to clear the way to a freer and more successful future! #leadership

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