It’s crazy, but true. What others don’t know can be your biggest stumbling block to success.
We forget that people don’t really know us.
They don’t know our history, our beliefs or how we really feel.
Sometimes they know nothing.
We assume they know us (or know enough).
We assume. And we sabotage our success.
Your Singular Role
Tonight was time for my special treat, a facial. Since I work my tush off, as mom, business owner and boss I make this my reward.
I have discovered I work better (at everything) if I take better care of myself.
This is a little hour a month with a huge impact.
I have been going to the same esthetician for the last six months, and every time I’ve gone in its been crazy cold outside. Even this past time in April, I bundled from head to toe: jeans, boots, my favorite black leather jacket, and of course a scarf.
Today it was hot. Even at my normal 7 p.m. appointment it was toasty. I strolled in with pretty flats and a flowing, short floral dress. Quite the contrast to the bundled up me she has become accustom to.
She was blown away, and had to double take it was even me. To me I was dressed like the normal warm weather me, but to her I was completely different.
She had only seen me in one “role.” (The bundled up me in black). She knew I was a mom, but that was about it.
We got to chatting during my facial and I surprised her again with mention of my travels in Europe and years in the Army.
When I was in the Army people knew me in the “role” of soldier. Dressed in uniform, hair always meticulously pulled back and black boots shined to perfection. Some only knew me in that role.
I can remember several times someone I had worked with daily saw me in civilian clothes for the first time and didn’t recognize me. Oh what a difference proper fitting, female clothes and your hair down makes. I looked like a different person.
I always thought it was funny; I forgot this was the only role they knew me in. They knew this small fraction of the real me.
Seeing me in different clothes told a little about me. Told a little more of my story.
I saw these people daily and they didn’t even know what I really looked like. And I never really shared anything with them. We never connected.
Back then I didn’t get it. I didn’t know how sharing a little about you can make a huge impact. I didn’t understand the connections I was missing,
Sharing just a small part of your story with those you know often can lead to a better understanding of who you really are.
When running or trying to start your own business this can be life changing. Yes, life changing.
How can sharing your story (even a little) change your life?
Sharing your story helps bridge the connection with those you know. People love finding commonalties with others, these common factors give you a bond.
“Oh, your from California, so am I, what part?”
“Oh, your son plays t-ball, so does mine? How does he like it?”
“Your daughter is three, so is mine? Do you have her in daycare?”
“You were (fill in the blank) so was my (fill in the blank)”
You get it.
If people only know you in one role, if they only know this small fraction of you then you will miss out.
Think of the people you only see at the gym, in work out clothes. You are a mystery to them.
If you never open your mouth about your story, you will miss out.
When my shy-ish self started opening my mouth more about my business I was (and still am) amazed at what it did for my business. A quick bite to eat turned into a long time client. One of my son’s extra curricular activities turned into multiple long term clients that all still refer me. What if I never mentioned I am a graphic/web designer – crazy-town lover of marketing?
Speaking up changed my business. Changed my life.
I am not telling you to spill your guts to the mailman, or tell the grocery checker your life story.
Just realize all these people, people you see all the time, may have no idea who you really are, what you do or how they are connected to you. They may need you. You may need them.
And you will never know. Unless you open up. Unless you open you mouth.
Let’s practice. I will go first.
Some random things you (probably) don’t know about me, but have shaped who I am. Maybe we have a connection too.
I was in the Army for several years, and loved it. A couple years in I fractured my hip pretty bad, but was able to stay in, with conditions. That all changed on September 11th. Everything changed. I no longer could “fulfill” my soldier duties and was medically discharged. I was heart broken.
What was a huge disappointment ended up being the greatest opportunity in my life. (Even though my damn hip still gives me problems.)
Time cut short
While in the military, and for some time after, I lived in Germany. I traveled quite a bit while there, even working in a dermatologist in Kuala Lumpur, but not as much as I wanted after 9-11. During 9-11 I was back home in California, on leave. I flew back to Germany just days later on one of the first flights to leave the ground. Traveling freely in Europe as an American was now different. I wish I had valued my first years traveling in Europe, I never imagined it would be cut short.
A painful, shut mouth
I painfully suffered from enzema my entire life, until last year when I finally found a doctor that heard me. Since I was young doctors told me to “put lotion on” like I had never thought of that. I finally quit trying, I quit asking. Until that day. A simple, cheap prescription and my entire life changed.
Don’t quit. Not on yourself or your kids. If you don’t get an answer keep asking. Don’t just give up.
Experience rules all
My travels changed how I experience everything. If you’ve always lived in the same place, or have never traveled too far you can’t image what you are missing.
Living in California I never imagined what truly old buildings or towns were like. Gold Rush towns have nothing on Washington D.C., Paris or Trier.
Living in the U.S. I never thought of the size of a German’s tiny fridge, and how that affects how they live their days. Fresh baked bread from the neighborhood bakery, every day. Yes, please.
Living in Minnesota taught me what true seasons are, and people are much tougher than you give them credit for. Christmas light parade full of kids – It’s a go, unless the wind chill is below zero! As it turns out cold is relative. As are most things.
If you can’t afford, or don’t have time, to travel far start small. Go to the other side of town. This weekend go drive two hours in a direction you haven’t gone.
Get out. Get out of your comfort zone.
Experiences and travel are what counts. Spend your money there. Changing your world view through travel will do more for your life than a new pair of shoes. Spend on experiences.
Embarrassment equals freedom
When I was in high school, freshman year, we had state testing to make sure we were academically and athletically in line. One of those athletic tests was sit ups. One minute, knock out as many as you could.
All the girls in my P.E. class were in the room, and my friend Kristina was in the group to go first. I held her feet. The teacher called “time” and we switched places. As we were changing positions she gave me some words of wisdom and I didn’t quite hear her, and I blew it off. She held my feet down firm and I waited for the signal to go.
The teacher gave the command and off I went, trying as hard as I could to get as many sit ups as humanly possible when it happened.
It was a fart. And not a little one, but a huge one that sent the entire class into hysterics. I didn’t hear Kristina warn me about the threat of passing gas.
The name “little toot” was christened and I was made to stay after school. Apparently messing up everyone’s state testing scores is frowned upon.
Yes, it was embarrassing, but guess what? I didn’t die. I was able to laugh it off. And when I went to my ten year reunion, no one mentioned it.
Shit happens. It’s small shit. It doesn’t matter.
You can’t take life too seriously. You have to laugh it off.
Whether it’s tooting in front of everyone, messing up a client order or burning dinner it is okay.
Laugh, learn and move on.
And, in the Army I did my far share of sit ups after that little incident and learned, well, I learned my lesson. No more little toot.
Silly right? But it’s true. It’s all true.
All trivial items that shaped who I am today. These are the experiences and lessons that brought me here today. These are my stories.
What about you?
What can you share? What is your story?
How can you open your mouth and tell a little about yourself, especially to those people that have the small “role” view of you?
Those people that see you everyday, but only in your work role?
Those people that see you only in that one uniform?
Those people that only see you as Johnny’s mom?
Those people that you only ever say “hi” to?
Step out of your comfort zone and share a little. It could change your life. It will change your life.
Comment below and let us know how you took action or mail me at torie(at)toriemathis.com and share your experience. I want to hear it.