I want to be perceived as a perfectly quaffed accountant/lawyer.
If you spent five minutes, ok maybe two, with me you’d know that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just last week I shocked even myself when I met someone, in person, for the first time and hugged them as soon as I saw them and even I was horrified that I jumped right in! (It was a joy socks contact in a palliative care ward, so I justified it later that she probably needed some extra love)
Don't get me wrong I know lawyers and accountants that come in a variety of shapes and sizes and with a wide variety of personality styles.
The hybrid that I’d aimed for is very confident, knowledgeable and has a keen attention to detail. I wanted to dot all my 'i's and cross all my 't's before anyone even knows that it’s necessary. I wanted to speak with such eloquence that butter risked melting in my presence and to show up at my clients’ offices in a conservative blue suit and be posed and prepared for anything that came my way.
I went for an interview with the CEO of a large organization to coach one of their VP's. I was starched up and well prepared. It was so hard to stay so ‘corseted’ up. I could barley breathe; which is exactly what I wanted. I walked in, imprisoned in a facade and had stuffed myself into all the weak spots in my costume where ‘Leona’ might escape from.
As the universe would have it I left the office with my skirt on sideways. The joke was on me. I'd twisted myself into something I was not and my skirt couldn't even keep from contorting itself.
I vowed to never do that again. I felt like a fraud and I hated being all 'twisted' up to get a contract.
What was I hiding? What was I so committed to keeping behind closed doors?
The ‘me’ that was so far from being what I was so committed to appearing like.
I couldn't do it again. It was fake and so far from integrity. The truth is I love people. I do know to shake hands with people upon meeting them but to be honest many meetings do end with a hug-that’s me.
I love connecting genuinely, I have strong leadership and business expertise and I can have an intelligent conversation and I have good business acumen. I also get choked up easily, I laugh heartily, have a good sense of humour and have fun all while getting some serious work done. I tend to wear blazers with big flowers on my lapel to remind me of joy, all while being classy and showing a wee bit of sass.
If that range doesn't suit someone or their organization then I'm not your girl and I'm coming to terms with that being ok.
More than ok.
I'm not anywhere close to a detailed person. I'm the last person that you'd want to do your taxes (although we'd have some good laughs and a lot of wine, and I might teach you some new ways to use profanity). Once I get to know someone I use happy faces and exclamation marks in my emails (oh Horror) and I have as some of my corporate values, for two of my businesses –fun and joy. J
My skirt doesn't twist in quiet rebellion anymore and I am blessed and honoured to work along many amazing clients-from doctors, to accountants, to business owners and artists-all becoming more keenly aware of who they are and how they want to show up in the world.
What hit home for me, even when the skirt being on sideways didn’t change me forever, was doing an exercise at training session with Brene Brown where the accountant/lawyer lie smacked me in the face. I know I wasn’t being 100% me but couldn’t put my finger on the real issue.
We answered questions like this-try it for yourself (source the Daring Way)
How do you want to be perceived?
I do not want to be perceived as:
Then going back to the first section answering the following questions next to each identity
1. What does this perception mean to me?
2. Why is it so unwanted?
3. Where did the messages that fuel this identity come from?
Now looking back at your list of unwanted identities, complete the following sentence:
If you label me and reduce me to the list of unwanted identities, you will miss the opportunity to know that I am complex and that I have many strengths, including these:
I also realized after going over this exercise with my coach was that I had made up a story that people don’t think that funny or goofy people are smart or have much to offer. We explored that and she said, “What about Patch Adams?”
My homework was to watch the movie and I was choked up the whole time. Patch is crazy and deep and loved other and works hard for what matters to him. I can do that. I do that.
So now I’m goofy and funny and me. I’m flower and Joy Sock wearing. I do my best to be kind, to honour other people; their uniqueness and flavour. I hold space equally for struggle and achievement. I avoid numbers like the plague, but am hoping to make the world a better place, just like you, in your own way.
You’re here to have an impact that only you can. In your life; in how you do business. Lay aside what you hope people will perceive you as.
If blue suits are your thing-get more. If numbers light you up, BRING THEM ON.
You’re here to bring your truth to the world in a way that only you can. Let’s set the world on fire together with truth, authenticity and courage.