Naked In The Crowd: The Risk of Revealing You

For years I felt that there was a standard or expectation of me that I should pay attention to.  I had “arrived” as a professional and so there were personas and ideals all around me about what it meant to hold that position, to share and belong in that community.  After all- this is where I wanted to be….right?

As an entrepreneur and clinician there was no shortage of opinions that not only is the customer always right- but that it is my job to be/do what they need.  If I wanted to get paid I would have to BE that for them.  So much emphasis is placed on these concepts that I think it drags professionals into places they don’t want to be and forces a standard that might be “right” but doesn’t fit.

Could it be that all our marketing and business planning efforts…all our codes of ethics and standards of practice are not the lifeline we hope for but a noose around our necks when we are drifting in the surf?

It’s been my observation that many professionals and business owners have a “best before date” to their passion.  At some point we lose sight of our true north and begin to be pulled by external forces.  As I do Force Field Analysis for different organizations I find myself including internal issues such as lack of identity, burn-out and distrust to that metric.  Internally  there is something off.  So much so that margins, employees and clients are all impacted.  Its time to look deeper. It’s time to look at you.

Often I find that the energy people spend trying to find solutions exclude them.  What I mean is they look to “fix” instead of “grow”.  How do we build strong businesses and exceptional services?  It’s not by firing your communications director (well-sometimes it is…let me explain).  Its about being reflective and honest about how you do or don’t match the initiatives that you are enmeshed in.

John Maxwell talks about the Law of Sacrifice in his book the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  The Law of Sacrifice is knowing that to do great things you must be prepared to sacrifice often more than you anticipate.  The difference between a leader who does “good” and one who does “great” is understanding that growing rather than fixing means getting uncomfortable, getting real and shedding the pretense of expectation that industry or we ourselves have used to limit our impact.  Sacrifice is not an attractive outcome for many and that’s why conformity is so highly valued.  If I look like, sound like and deliver services just like everyone else- then I have value.  What if that isn’t true?

What if the age old standard of “the bottom line” falls short of capturing the value of authentically building our businesses and our careers? 

What if we’ve missed the point all together?

In the past year I have felt as if I am standing naked in the crowd.  I made a decision to take the risk of being and living and building a business centered entirely on who I am and what I believe I can do in the world.  I knew that branding myself as myself was very risky.  It means that I have made myself a consumable.  That some people will take a piece of me and tarnish it, misuse it and abuse it; but others will take that piece and cherish it and hold it close because we connected and there is value in that connection.  The risk of revealing me is one of rejection, of heartache, of knowing some things just don’t serve me and to let go of that.  It’s knowing that according to the Law of Sacrifice I will have short term pain financially, emotionally and even physically in order to shed the expectations that are not empowering.  What is revealed then becomes far more centered and powerful.  It reveals both my strengths and my weaknesses (opportunities for growth) in such a way that making decisions about who to lean on and what direction to go in is far more successful than if I had referenced my industry standards or the opinions of others.

In business and as professionals we must choose where to spend our energy and find our purpose.  I would suggest that the most valuable place for you to focus on…is on you.

From that authentic place your values, your strategic plan and your execution of  that plan will not just resonate but exponentially respond to you and your market.

Revealing you and getting “naked” is undervalued and under-engaged in successful professionals and business owners- they have “arrived”.   However, it creates a ceiling for our performance.  It allows conformity and complacency to get a foothold.  It robs the world of our vision and innovation and ultimately makes our careers a soul-sucking experience.

Taking the risk to “Get naked” and reveal YOU is the missing foundation to building strong brand identity, loyalty and ROI into how we operated and build our companies.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How much of your business is based on what you value? Are you relying on formulas or coming from a place where who YOU are -is reflected in your marketing, products and policies?
  2. Do you find yourself in dilemmas when you see that there is something the industry or your colleagues expect that doesn’t match your values? How do you currently respond?  Is this how you want to continue responding?
  3. What “risk” would you be taking to shed those expectations and reveal who you really are? What is the fear that holds you back?  Are you prepared to make large scale sacrifice to honor your personality and integrity?

I’d love to hear if your experiences are like mine.  If you liked this post please sign up for my newsletter and get information like this directly to your inbox.  Leave a comment- let’s keep talking.

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