- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Compassion’
When I was in practice as a securities lawyer, I used to think I had to be tough. Many days I also thought that the only way to compete with the male securities lawyers, I had to be mean. It all felt so wrong, yet it was all I knew. That was until the day when I couldn’t do it anymore. To be honest, I’m not sure I ever did ‘tough and mean’ very well. But who really does?
Yet I find so many of us still hang our professional hat on the notion of competition that includes being tough and mean. I’ve had several people (we’ll leave gender out of this for now) say that I’m just “too nice”. Really? Is that supposed to be a negative comment? If it is, then how do you explain why my business is doing so well?
While my response is not, “kill them with kindness” or “you wouldn’t know nice if it hit you in the head”, I do stop and think about what society, in particular professionals, consider an effective brand. Why is it that kindness doesn’t seem to be an option? Was it ever an option?
Here’s the deal, just because I’m kind doesn’t mean I’m a pushover. I think this is where the confusion happens. We automatically assume that if we are kind in business, then someone is going to run right over us and then we lose. Really?
On a recent trip through an airport, a billboard sign from Southwest Airlines caught my eye. It said, “Stand out by standing your ground”. To me that means, have an effective brand by holding firm to who you are and your values.
What does it mean to hold your ground? Since so many of us have boundary issues, I suppose most of us think it means we have to be tough and mean and ready to rumble.
It doesn’t mean that at all in my world. In my world standing my ground as an effective brand means being kind, yet firm. “No” means “no”. No explanation needed. Yet there’s no hostility and no grudges. Kindness can exist just the same by respecting the other party.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- Do you think you are too kind? If so, why?
- Do you maintain healthy boundaries with others?
- Or do you overcompensate by coming across as a rough and tough brand. Is it really working for you or could you be more effective as a brand by being more kind?
Life throws us so much “stuff” sometimes, it can be challenging to see it all as a gift. We end up having to juggle so many things that to me it is a miracle when I get to crawl into bed some days. Take today for instance: I had car “issues”. That, in and of itself, is stressful. Then my car got vandalized (don’t ask) on top of it all. I had to deal with all this between the hours of 6:30am and 9:30am. Then I came into the office (late, of course). I had a call followed by a staff meeting and then the bookkeeper had questions, too, to which I was the only one with answers. Get the picture?
Here’s the question: how was I supposed to separate the personal stuff from work and be a good employer and leader? How was I supposed to come into the office and be an effective leader/manager? Is it possible, you ask? Yes, and it can either be done well or… not so well. Here’s how I see the distinction.
I was with a client the other day. She was speaking of the challenges of managing her staff well when there were so many “interesting” and varied personalities involved. I suggested to her that she stop viewing her job as “management” and instead look at it as support. Why, you ask? Management is different than leadership. When we are asked to manage others, it’s as if we are given a set of tasks that those we manage must complete. Our job as managers is to just make sure the set of tasks get completed well by those we manage.
Effective and impactful brands are leaders, NOT managers.
Leadership is the brand that I look to cultivate for all clients. Leadership has nothing to do with a checklist or tasks. It also has nothing to do with giving stellar speeches or your title. Leadership is about having a brand that is: a) creative, b) large and forward-looking in scope and outlook and c) kind to those who report to you. If I had to sum up the concept of successful leaders with great brands it would be those who support others well. When we are able to support others in their goals and challenges, we are not only great managers and leaders- we are human beings who care. Simply put, people take instruction and want to be around those who care and practice compassion.
So what does “support” mean? Support is whatever you make it to be. I always try to remember that supporting others may not look the way I think it should be- it is a very individualistic process that is based on the other person’s needs and goals, NOT ours as the supporting leader. This always requires us to choose to see things differently. This is true when you support/lead/manage people at work, when you interact with your spouse/partner and your children.
So stop and ask yourself:
- How do you support others?
- Do you stop to see things differently by putting yourself in their position?
- How can you improve upon your own leadership abilities?
- How can you develop an awareness practice to know when you could care more and be more compassionate to others?
Before you think I’m asking you to make a new year’s resolution that you won’t keep, think again and choose to see things differently. Yes, a new year is here. With it can come the drudgery of the past or an opportunity for you to develop a brand for yourself that will leave you happier and more successful. Each of us has a choice.
I personally don’t get the concept of a new year’s resolution. I believe I need to always be resolved to be better and think differently. Otherwise, my brand stagnates and, in a way, so does everything I touch. Besides, resolutions sound kind of scary to me. It feels like there’s no turning back — if I don’t keep my resolution or do it “good enough”, then I fail.
Deliberate brand creation is a marathon, not a new year’s sprint. That’s what I always tell all our clients and also why 99% of our clients are in some sort of maintenance program with me once we have developed their initial brand. The process is never “over”, your brand is never “done”. The good news is your brand just evolves and grows with time as you grow and change. That’s exciting! That takes time, effort, deliberate thought and deliberate action and of course, a plan.
So let’s look at it differently and have you develop your brand from a new perspective. Close your eyes and picture yourself on December 31, 2016. An entire year has come and gone.
How is it that you are remembered by the world on 12/31/16? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded”. Barbara Stanny said in her fantastic book, Sacred Success, “All that matters is that your legacy reflects your purpose, makes you proud, brings you pleasure, and inspires or improves something or someone else”.
The memories others have of us are our brands. Think in terms of memories. It’s then easier to relate to branding as a concept.
To get started, ask yourself:
- What’s been my contribution in 2016? In answering this look at:
- Did I have a particular cause and/or purpose greater than myself for which I stood?
- How do people remember me emotionally? As Carnegie once said, we are all creatures of emotion, and not logic. Emotions go farther than any of us want to believe. Positive emotions leave us with positive memories.
- Did my contribution leave joy in the hearts of others ? Notice I did not mention leaving joy in the mind’s of others. The emotion of joy is captured in our hearts.
- Did I choose to see people’s differences only, or was I compassionate towards others and towards MYSELF choosing to see our similarities?
- How can my contribution continue to grow (and my brand develop) in the upcoming year?
Here’s to a 2016 filled with all the wonderful memories that leave you as the brand you want to be remembered by.