As I come down from the holidays, I was thinking about all of the family I was around and reflecting how much I enjoyed it. At the same time, in many instances I also felt a sense of disappointment. I had to reflect on this disappointment and it took me almost two weeks to sit with it and reflect.
When I say disappointment, what I mean is this: I believe that everyone should always be true to themselves, true to who they really are. Everyone should say what they think, give you that perspective that you have never thought about. That’s the joy of diversity. That’s the joy of a family that marries into other families and other genetic pools. Diversity is what is so exciting.
So what I am disappointed about is not the individuals within my family, but the fact that for some reason many in several families I spent time with weren’t being true to themselves. I felt like in many situations – even among family – they felt they couldn’t be themselves, which was disappointing to me. If they feel they cannot be themselves in the one environment that should be safe, that concerns me.
Then I extended this same thought process to my experience in the business world, where very few people ever seem to really be themselves. This never sits well with me so I always chose to wear the loudest ties, the biggest scarves, the brightest socks… whatever it takes to say, “Hey, I am going to be myself –different and individual, like I should.” The entire point of this is always be yourself. No matter what the circumstances, believe in the fortitude of yourself, first and always.
Yes, always be yourself, in all situations. Never, never, be something you think someone else wants. When you are yourself, your energy will be higher, people will listen to you with enthusiasm, and you can never be wrong. Yep, you can never be wrong![tweetthis remove_url=”true”]Always be yourself. No matter what the circumstances, believe in the fortitude of yourself, first and always.[/tweetthis]
I learned this early in my career in a meeting where I did not know what I was listening to. I am the son of a fisherman, very much out of place in a meeting about agriculture with Cascadian Farms (one of the first organic food companies.) I was engaged in a very technical discussion on how to get more organic acreage for growing vegetables. Like many meetings, we got off track and started arguing about why Cascadian Farms needed more farmers and organic acreage. I was confused and not really in-tune with the conversation. My brain just wasn’t wired like everyone else’s in the room. But I kept listening, feeling that I was not educated enough on the subject to contribute to the argument. But, since I was trying to secure a consulting contract, I kept listening, looking for an opportunity to redirect the conversation to a productive place.
Then I saw my chance, and when I saw an opening to speak, I said firmly, “You guys aren’t walking in the farmers shoes!” The room went quiet. The CEO looked at me and said, “Wow, that’s profound.”
I did get the contract, but much more important was that I went with what I personally felt about the conversation, not about the details of farming or organic agriculture. It was a lesson I have carried with me and now want to share with you. Just say what you feel in meetings! People will enjoy you more and you will be respected for your honesty. In the meeting with Cascadian Farms, I didn’t know a thing about what the others were talking about but by just listening, I realized that if the organic market is going to grow, it needed to include the perspective of those who grew the food. I learned right then and there to not worry about what you are saying as long as you speak from the heart.
That experience is part of the reason we created Code Blue Innovations’ smart phone app, Meeting Bomb. We wanted you to feel confident to be yourself and “blow up” boring meetings, like I did in the Cascadian Farms meeting.
Being yourself means presenting yourself to the world with confidence in who you are. It also means being there, in person, whenever and wherever you can, as if every interaction was closing on the deal of a lifetime. Don’t just “be willing” to go to someone else’s office, home, club, favorite restaurant or whatever – be enthusiastic! Show up and share your most recent insights or thoughts, speak from the heart and be your incredible and extraordinary self.[tweetthis]Being yourself means presenting yourself to the world with confidence in who you are.[/tweetthis]
How many times have you tried to play along with the rest even when you know it’s not you? Only to later learn that you would have been able to offer more to the conversation if you had simply been your self. You are incredible and valuable as yourself. It’s more than just your presentation to the world. Deep within you, your genetic code is uniquely created to give you certain advantages and characteristics.
Are are you maximizing your genetic potential? Or are you fighting with it, trying to be someone that you’re not?
Yes, sometimes it takes incredible courage but just stand up and say what you think. You can give the conversation or subject a totally different spin. But being yourself has an added benefit, too –it encourages those around you to be themselves, too. Many teams I work with are too homogenous with everyone trying to be the same thing. These teams need to diversify, to let each person on the team be themselves. By being yourself, you encourage other people around you to be themselves.
You are unique, exceptional and incredible, so why would you live by anyone else’s rules or expectations? Just think for a moment how it feels to be in alignment with who you really are. You are not your job, golf score or husband/wife – you are an individual with a unique set of genes and experiences that gives you a unique view of the world and a unique way of interacting with it. You are as unique as a snowflake–physiologically, emotionally, and experientially. Let your uniqueness thrive in every meeting, in every interaction, and every day.
So remember no matter what setting, whether it is family or business, please share the real you with everyone. They will enjoy you, respect you and you will feel good about yourself — Yep, your real self is the “incredible.”