I’ve spent the last two weeks talking about the benefits of viewing yourself as a brand – whether you work as an employee or entrepreneur. And while “brand” consists of several layers (there’s visual design, your message (aka: voice), and your relationships), the focus of my pieces has been centered on your message and, by extension, on your relationships. (You can catch up here and here.)
The individual and collective elements of your brand serve as one of your greatest assets.
In part, because they are how you stand out from those who functionally do the same work as you. Also, because your message tends to reveal your values and your priorities. And once these are out in the open, a space is created that allows for people to agree and disagree with you.
The image above is proof of someone’s response to last week’s post sent as an email to those on my list.
Yes, I know not everyone will like me. And I know that even those that do like me, they may not always like what I have to say. But that doesn’t mean this response didn’t take me by surprise. Especially once I discovered how many years the person was on my email list. (If you’re curious, it was over four years and I did not know this person. But my list is exclusively opt-in, so I somehow came on their radar.)
Truth is, this email was mild compared to what I’ve seen expressed on the social media feeds of others. And while getting this person’s email was unpleasant, it sparked the focus for today’s piece.
I’m turning this experience into a teachable moment for us all. I mean…why let a moment like this go to waste, right?!
Remember The Four C’s
Previously, I asked, “what is it you want to be known for?”
However you answered this question, you will eventually encounter someone who doesn’t like the stand you’ve taken. There will be times when you’ll never know about this; other times, they will let you know. 🙂
And when the latter happens, it’s not your job to try and convince them otherwise. It’s not your job to seek their approval. At least not the way I see it.
That said, when someone reveals they don’t like your message/voice – what you stand for, what you have to say, or how you choose to express it – I do believe it’s an invitation for you to revisit these four C’s in no particular order:
What you want to be known for is not a wishy-washy endeavor. You’re either in or out, for or against. Your message/voice doesn’t dwell in the gray zone when it comes to the actions you take (or don’t).
So when someone pushes back, this is a chance to confirm the message/voice you made a commitment to before is what you wish to remain committed to now.
The way I see it, if commitment is about actions, then conviction is about beliefs and what you’re willing to leave on the table.
So when someone pushes back, are you willing to stick with your message and continue expressing it – even if it means you may be leaving money or future opportunities on the table?
At the end of the day, your message/voice is how you emotionally connect to people and what’s important to them – the folks already in your circle, as well as those you want to invite in.
So when someone pushes back, pay attention to the emotions that bubble up to the surface. Because you will likely have an emotional response to what unfolds and how it happens. But also notice the “fire” that your response signals in terms of your conviction and commitment to your message/voice and how it serves others.
I don’t think one’s brand and message ever completely changes. However, it can evolve. And with this evolution, you may want to change direction or your key audience.
So when someone pushes back, is your reaction also reminding you of something that’s lingering beneath the surface? A decision, perhaps, that you’ve been deferring.
You’re Not For Everyone
The thing that baffled me most about the email I received was realizing that I’ve been showing up in her inbox for four years…and she didn’t see me. She didn’t see my humanity and she didn’t see the humanity of other Black people.
Here’s the thing: Your message/voice is a powerful instrument!
It is what creates deep and meaningful relationships with your team, peers, subordinates and bosses, if you work as an employee; and with your team, clients, customers and prospects, and collaborators and vendors, if you work as an entrepreneur. It is what connects you to the issues of the world and how you express your beliefs.
Some people won’t like what you have to say, what you stand for, or how you choose to express it. Regardless of your good intentions. And while it may sting initially, that’s okay because:
Not everyone is right for you and your brand and message.
Remembering and embracing this is beneficial at any time, but especially right now when you may find yourself re-tooling, pivoting, or doubling-down. Or, coming to terms with the fact that one of your greatest assets – your brand and message – are not just confined to your body of work. Precisely because your message/voice emerges from who you are.