I pride myself on being mindful. Years of self-development work have helped me be usually aware of my actions and words as and when I am delivering them.
So irrespective of what others do, I can be and act my truest self always, maintain my state of calm, fun, passion, and approach others with good energy, warmth, and positivism.
And then, just when I get super confident that I am doing things right (finally!), along comes someone who pushes my buttons to the limit and challenges all that.
Met a prospective client recently who did exactly that. He has no experience of branding and marketing, and yet he disagreed with me on almost everything on the basic principles of these subjects. Through his words and actions I didn’t feel particularly respected, didn’t get very positive vibes.
(Notice how I said he didn’t disrespect me, I felt it). Because I know that anything is something only in the way we perceive it. The gentleman may not have had an agenda to disrespect me, but my ego got badly hurt.
Though in the beginning I stayed myself and responded with patience and smiles, slowly, as he kept his attitude going, I started noticing that familiar sensation of anger and bruised ego rising, filling me with negativity, and I realized I had switched from responding to reacting.
My body language, choice of words, length and delivery of sentences, had changed. I was defending myself, sort of trying to pull him down, trying very hard to control to keep my cool. I wasn’t liking myself or the situation one bit, and just wanted to walk away or the other person to go away.
And the best part is, I knew, somewhere down, even as I was reacting, that there was nothing to be upset about. He was perfectly justified in having his point of view, and if I was behaving like a true leader and being true to myself, I would listen to him more actively, be kind, try harder to see where he was coming from, and then, in a language he understood, would try to guide him to the direction I knew would help his business.
And if I couldn’t, no worries. You can’t win them all. You can still have a great conversation and end on a genuinely, positive-feeling note.
But at that point, I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t stop the negative energy I was feeling, and that made me more angry at myself. I knew I wasn’t interpreting the situation right, I wasn’t able to see his point of view 100%, and that was the real problem, but I couldn’t change it.
Throughout the process, I was more upset with myself than with him.
It’s not like the meeting was bad, or that there was a fight, on the surface it was all fine, everyone was all smiles, but you know how after a conversation sometimes you have a weird feeling, and you know nothing would come out of it? Whether with a client, or a colleague? That’s how it was. And am pretty sure that even though I didn’t intend it, my brand showed up as negative, egoistic, and not really as a good communicator. And that’s not a right representation.
So for me, that incorrect projection of myself has a bigger impact than if I get the business or not.
Well, everything teaches you something. And for me, this is what I learnt:
Firstly, being mindful and not letting anyone steal your happy state is a continuous process. So encourage yourself on the progress, but keep working on it.
If someone is stealing your mojo and making you upset, then you’re probably not having the right thoughts. Because no one else can make you feel something you don’t want to feel. Your perception leads to your emotions and actions.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer
The client could have been trying to clarify his knowledge on the subject and challenge me to see my level of confidence and expertise, I just saw it as disrespect.
If you are truly self-aware, you will always know what is a true action for you. If something feels bad while doing it, you need to pause then and change course, because you’re not being really authentic and building a positive connection.
No matter what the situation is, you can always be leading it. You can be in control. With your self-awareness, interpretation, energy, you can lead the people you interact with to a place where both parties feel good about each other.
If I could have led the client to a place where he actually felt 100% heard and respected, instead of insisting that he listens to me because of my expertise on branding, there is a chance he might have calmed down more, and listened to me. Of course, maybe he still wouldn’t have, because everyone is responsible for their own actions. But I will never find out, because I didn’t do my part. I didn’t listen to him as much as he needed to be listened to, at that point.
And that brings me to the next point. Anyone who shows up in your life is a mirror of who you are, to some extent. I wasn’t listening to him, and he did the same. He was just my reflection, in a way. To show me that I need to work on those skills more. So take more responsibility for your behavior first, before blaming others.
And this is my best one:
Personal branding is an ongoing process. It’s ok to mess up sometimes. Any time that you’re not yourself, you learn more about yourself, and you know what you have to do to be more authentic, more true. So forgive yourself first. Easier said than done, right? But try, seriously. One way to do that is action. Instead of obsessing how you messed up, start working on the changes you want.
You have the power to change a situation, to lead it, improve it, just by changing your thoughts, response, and energy to it. You create your own reality. Be your authentic brand, be #PowerfullyYOU.
Would love to hear your comments and don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can check my website, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter for more tips and information on authentic personal leadership branding.