What if the Secret to your Success is one question away? Could your special brand – what is uniquely you – lie with someone else? What if another’s opinion of you is greater than yours? Is that a possibility? We hear a lot about taking back our power and the famous quote of Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” has a profound and meaningful place in our world. What if we have already done that on our own – allowed all that self-doubt? And so, to reach out and see yourself as others see you could be a possible key to Recreating You at Any Age.
In the 4-week career program I offered some years ago we had a special exercise at the 3-week mark after everyone had got to know a bit about each other. Everyone was given a piece of paper; it had the name of everyone in the group (sometimes as many as 25). Each person was directed to write beside every name a positive adjective or phrase they had observed about that person. Invariably there were amazing moments of surprise and delight at what others had written, especially only knowing each other for such a short time. It reminded me of how clarity comes so often when we keep it simple. These people only knew each other for a brief moment in a whole lifetime; yet they often saw strength and potential that the person themselves had lost sight of or never believed to be true. Herein could be a key for one’s secret to success!
Another similar and potentially opposite exercise was to get in pairs and help each other with that difficult to answer question in an interview: “What is your greatest weakness?” Again, as in the interview, the goal was to give an answer that could actually be deemed to be a strength. I paired up with my administrative assistant who was also a special friend and whom I had known for years and in other careers. Without hesitating, she said, “you care too much.” I tried to be open and take this to a positive place in my mind; with her blunt honesty I learned a little bit about balance in my life and the value of empowering others to take care of themselves. Slowly, I let go of the “care taking” that would limit their ability to spread their wings to greater levels of confidence and independence.
As you well know there are people everywhere who would love to give you their opinion so when you try out this exercise remember to choose super friendly and supportive people who are not judging you; they are affirming positive things about you that might never have occurred to you. They need not know you well but they need to understand the exercise; just a simple word or phrase that highlights what comes to mind when they think of you.
You will need to guide the question. When you ask – “what do you see as my strongest characteristic,” they will reply – “well, you are this and this and so on…” Then you should say – “if there was one quality about me that you believe is my greatest strength what would it be?” Take the best and leave the rest! Do not spend ANY time on the answers that feel “judgmental.”
This is about finding out things about you that you don’t see or had forgotten in yourself; it is a reminder that others’ perspectives can sometimes open your eyes to how unique you are – because we all are. Let me share another’s perspective about me that created new possibilities.
Many years ago, I was hired by a famous national journalist and writer to promote his book, which had become an all-day training program for executives. Given his education and experience, he obviously had a way with words and a knack for capturing things with brevity and metaphors. I don’t think he had ever met anyone like me before and when he autographed a book for me he wrote: “to the iron butterfly”. Many people who knew me well over the years loved it and the phrase stuck.
One day sometime later, during a difficult and sad time for me, I opened a card that said: “Find a little happiness in every day.” On the envelope it read “MOM!” And a sticker under that read “Live, Love, Laugh and Be Happy” with hearts sprinkled in among the words. Inside on the card there was a message to me on one side and an amazing story on the other side. Here is the story.
Lessons of the Heart www. American greetings.com
There once was the most beautiful butterfly that flew all around and spread magic, joy and fun everywhere she traveled. This bright, gentle, delicate beauty held a mystery. You see as folklore told, this light, small, fine butterfly has survived many dark, rough storms. The legend says that’s how she has iron in her wings which has allowed her to survive these tremendous storms she must fly through. Hence this tiny, delicate, beautiful butterfly has been nicknamed the “iron butterfly”. They wonder if each storm has ripped the iron threads from her wings, but what they don’t realize is that their “iron butterfly” has actually gained power and strength in wisdom from each storm. It is from this wisdom she flies with strength and holds her power and shelters herself from the storms she has to endure.
The iron butterfly flies high and graceful to this day.
Perhaps there is a beautiful treasure that someone said about you once and it could hold a secret to your success. We need to be paying attention and open to digging deep into our minds, our hearts and our belongings to find it. We cannot possibly remember all the things in our lives that are meaningful but there is indeed a gift in every day; to be sure I had long forgotten about this card and the story. I discovered it the night I decided it was time to share all the treasures I have kept over the years with whoever may be in need of reading them. It felt like the Universe had found a way to encourage me to just “do it”; it enabled me to embrace the wonderful quote below of Albert Einstein. I didn’t know where I would take my journey of sharing all my positivity treasures but I now believed I would be guided every step of the way and I was open to what could be possible without needing to know the how.
Ask questions and be open to others’ answers; a secret to your success could be at the end of a question. Someone may see something in you that has been lying dormant just waiting to be expressed by another who may not even know you well. It may be tucked away in a card or letter somewhere. You may be great at discovering others’ strengths and talents but typically we hold back when it comes to unraveling our own. Be open, believe and bring new things within you to the realm of possibility. A secret to your success is out there; go find it.
Can you think of a metaphor for you? Ask someone to help you. Make it wonderful and even outrageous: Gentle Giant, Powerful Hummingbird, Angelic Cougar!
Share a forgotten treasure or a gift in your day for it is in sharing we can empower each other.