This morning, I listened to a few minutes of the Tom Joyner Morning Show on my way to work. Holly Robinson Peete was a guest on the show, and Tom and his crew asked her questions about her experience on Celebrity Apprentice. They congratulated her on winning a particular challenge, as she not only won but set a record on the show for raising the most funds. She then commented on receiving a cold reception from the other contestants at the beginning of the show, because they did not really know what qualified her to be there. She also joked about being called a b*tch so many times that she probably set the record for that too.
Apparently, Holly has a reputation for being a fundraiser, and it seems that that reputation didn’t precede her onto the show. That conversation sparked thoughts in my own mind about how often we’re underestimated in life because people don’t know who we really are.
We Can’t Always Blame Others
Sometimes we’re offended because people will misjudge us as different than the people we are inside. But we can’t always blame others for this misinterpretation. So often, we are focused on the grind that we’re on, that we don’t cultivate the relationships around us that lead to our external perception. I’ve noticed that black people, black women in particular, remove ourselves from office politics as saying we don’t want to be fake, are just there to do our jobs, and don’t like to play games. But we overlook how others foster relationships and reach out to higher levels of management; then we’re bitter that someone else got the promotion we wanted, not because they perform better but because management knows them better. The saying does not go “its not what you know, its who you know” for a reason.
I’m not suggesting that you step on anyone else’s toes on your way to to the top. I am stating that you can’t just keep your head down and plow through your work day. Those water cooler moments, office happy hours and holiday parties are the opportunities to let people know who you really are and connect with who they really are outside of the workplace. And in our personal lives, we often don’t share the wonderful things we’ve accomplished with our friends – it can come as a shock that you’ve done all you’ve done. Our self talk sometimes says “I’m just me” or something similar. But if you don’t inform other people of who “just me” is, you can’t expect them to know.
Let Your Light Shine Brightly
There is an art to self-promotion that eliminates the need for bragging. When a girlfriend asks you “so, what’s new?” you can take that opportunity to let her know what you’re working on. And information that you give about yourself can be stated in a manner that’s not to one-up anyone else or show off. If you’re not conceited or overly prideful about your accomplishments, then it won’t come across that way. Its also helpful to remember that we can’t control what others think about us. Your job is to present the information, and if someone chooses to continue to think and believe things about you that isn’t true, thats on them and not you.
Let me reiterate how important it is to connect and build relationships with others along our journey. I am always pleasantly surprised at how others are willing to help me whenever I ask for help. Frequently I don’t have to ask, alot of people just like helping others and will extend their hand first. But a person can’t help if you don’t share what you’re working on or give them a glimpse of who you really are. Its not as painful as it appears from the outside looking in, and all it takes is a small step in another person’s direction.