I’ve always had a strong dependency on words. They help me get a grip on the world around me and the nature of people who could hurt or help me. They’ve often saved me from myself.
There’s so much going on around us, all day, every day. Most of us live in an expectation-heavy, activity vortex, struggling to avoid being consumed by it.
When the vortex wins, we lose.
Most of us doesn’t listen well. We hear but don’t listen. We forget that people (and we’re people too) say things in order to get us to:
- Do what they want
- Change our minds
- Think the way they do
- Affect the way we see ourselves
- Makes purchases
- Desire things we do or don’t need
- Follow the crowd
The list can get long.
The noise of expectations, requirements, and cautions is everywhere. TV programs, texts, email blasts, radio announcements, and talking heads galore distract the focus of our minds relentlessly.
Our challenge is to listen closely to what is actually being said and implied. Then we need to figure out what, if any of it, is something we want to incorporate into our way of living and working.
When we sort through the words that come at us and understand the messages they contain, we become the drivers of who we are and the paths we choose to follow.
Consider personal brand management messages like these:
The image expert says: “These are the fashions, personal grooming products, cool cars, and technology devices/apps that are the rage this year among the up-and-comers. Adopt them and you will build a personal brand that signals you’re ‘with it’ and current.”
The message heard is: Getting ahead today, socially and in business, means adopting whatever is trendy.
You’re tempted to think: “I need to look younger or more chic, get the latest smart phone, dye my hair, get a new car. If I don’t, I’ll come across as un-cool or old school. If I invest in these trends, I’ll increase my chances of getting ahead.”
Your truth: What positions you to get head is your personality, your energy, your vibe. It’s in your ability to get things done, engage others, be reliable. You’re genuine, kind, and positive. You don’t need to buy a new look. Just be your best self.
Now, consider words you might hear at work:
Your boss says: “You have excellent people skills, especially when dealing with unhappy customers and working with stressed out coworkers. You have a great future here and I see you supervising others in time.”
The message heard is: You could be promoted one of these days.
You’re tempted to think: “I need to keep demonstrating my people skills, so my boss won’t change his mind about me. Getting promoted to supervisor would be an unanticipated challenge. I need to be ready for it.”
Your truth: You like working with customers and peers, and increasing the scope of your existing job would be great. But you never wanted to supervise, because the requirements of the role don’t fit your personality. It’s not the career path that feels good to you. Let your boss know that, so s/he can develop you in different directions.
Make decisions on your terms
I lived that last example. I loved being a manager but I never wanted to become an executive. I knew I was being considered and wanted to be sure my reasons were delivered in my words. So I invited the CEO to lunch to explain and my career then proceeded along the best lines for me.
You ‘re not like everyone else, so there’s no reason to believe that you should want what everyone else has. As an individual, you are wired to be unique.
The words that swirl around you are both hooks and anchors that are yours to accept or reject. Own the words that are good for you and discard the rest. That puts your next steps on your terms.