Choosing our face masks
We’ve all had our fair share of inglorious failures, but should our Linkedin profile reflect that?
The ‘phone rang. “Can you meet me at the 18th green to deliver the latest BMW branded golf architecture?” It was a simple enough request from a client, but life isn’t always simple. I was 26 and had invested everything into my marketing communications start-up. Reliable cars were not yet an affordable ‘thing’, and my tatty old Volkswagen Scirocco (Black Beauty) was pressed into action to meet my client at this prestigious ‘Royal’ golf course. Having successfully delivered the required merchandise, my car immediately broke down, and simultaneously pissed out the remainder of its clutch fluid literally in full view of the clubhouse.
All of us have been embarrassed, but this was epic. Emotions akin to shame or guilt swirled around in my head for weeks afterwards, it was a reflection how bad I felt about the incident, and my perception of how it may have damaged my reputation. All these years later I know that embarrassments can have great value by helping us to ‘up our game’ or learn new skills or attitudes to prevent any potential repeat in the future.
These current, crazy, unpredictable times have given me the time to think about our responsibilities for our mental health. It’s not my ‘thing’ to write about mental health, but I am alongside people that are worried, that are anxious and are struggling with what the pandemic has meant to their business, their livelihoods, their careers and their relationships.
It has affirmed to me that people are complicated and much of what makes us who we are is kept beneath the surface. I know from my personal journey that as I interact with different people, I reveal different layers of myself – some I am proud of and some not so much. However, the truth is that my character expresses itself differently – depending on who I am interacting with. That’s one of my masks.
Another mask is the one I show to my close friends, and family. They’re the ones I talk to about the challenges I have faced, those super embarrassing moments I’ve had or deep concerns that I have – all of which I’d definitely not share on Linkedin. You know what I mean – like the time in my twenties when I attended an early business breakfast with one brown shoe and one black (my excuse; it was dark when I got dressed and didn’t bother to look at my feet until I was on the train).
Or more recently, when I was so flat–broke I couldn’t afford a car and how I used my passion for cars to start writing about them so I could get fully expensed, brand new press cars delivered to me every week. This blessing continued to multiply exponentially and resulted in global travel and the consumer media influence that endures to this day. It’s in all these varied experiences – call them failures or embarrassments if you must – that could have crushed my confidence. Yet somehow, I managed to laugh at myself, to adapt, to be resilient and responsive and to stoically ‘keep calm and carry on’.
My third persona is the one I rarely show anyone. The one which at times looks kind of scary and sometimes ugly and often un-polished. It’s the place where I need to speak my truth as best as I know it. It’s where I can eventually start to understand that the right people and projects will find me. It takes as long as it takes, and for me it took decades to be honest with myself and my own story.
I now whole heartedly believe that the more authentic we are, the more likely we are to surround ourselves with people that will value what we do, what we stand for. And they will do business with us.
The most pressing question in this COVID altered existence, though, is in the ‘how to carry on?’ I personally have had fantastic projects and deals postponed, some of which may be lost forever. Meetings are prohibited, clients have frozen budgets, travelling is tricky at best, with self-employed people and SMEs taking a significant knock.
In reality, we don’t know how long this pandemic will continue to exert its influence and nor do we know exactly what to do about it. But one thing for sure, it is vital to keep positive and mentally healthy.
So, here are a few things that you can try:
Begin your day doing what brings you joy
Whatever time you arise, start your day with a smile. Don’t let news, phones, WhatsApp’s, emails, etc. dictate how you will feel for the rest of the day.
Decide the night before what you’d like to achieve the following morning and start there. Only when that’s been done and you’re happy and feel good about the result, should you check on the outside world. Consider learning to mediate – for me, it’s been a ‘life saver’
Root out fake news
There’s loads of media clutter out there and often the news media stokes our fears. If you must check on how the world is dealing with the pandemic, make sure you get your information from multiple trusted and authentic sources – avoid echo chambers.
Remove distractions and reflect
This is a unique moment in history. Turn off the sound on your phone and unsubscribe from all those newsletters you never open. You’ve accomplished many things in your life, and it’s time you appreciated them.
Don’t do it just because everyone else does
As entrepreneurs, we always look for opportunities. Others are active despite the difficult situation and we say, “Why aren’t we?” I think we need to let go of the idea that business will continue as usual.
This is a good time to simply observe what may be next, and to let go of any guilt or anxiety from not pushing through with the way things ‘ought’ to be. Cut yourself slack. And by all means, check your Linkedin profile and see what changes need to be made to reflect the real value you offer the world. It may be cathartic.
If anything will be valid after this current pandemic crisis, it’s you yourself.
Authentic story-telling for people and for brands. Tap www.richardmarkwebb.com, hit the WhatsApp button or contact him at email@example.com or find him on social.