Are you trying to be all things to all people?
Some wisdom from Aesop on this glorious Wednesday morning, as I work on expanding my business plans for 2015. I've taken a little break to share my thoughts with you. It's all about setting your clear personal compass (or brand), so that the people you choose to be in your life - friends, clients, even family for some - are those who have attributes that you want around you, who help you be the best person you can be, and who in turn, receive the gifts you have to offer.
This means being very clear about who YOU are, and not trying to be all things to all people. I speak from experience here! The only loser is you.
The choices you make about the people around you are often because of the perceptions you hold about yourself. The more you try to be to others, the more diluted the authentic you becomes.
When I write a book, its authenticity lies in that I write from my soul. I let the writing and the design of it come through me. But because I have this ethos, it can be tempting to think that all people who approach me asking me to work with them are like-minded. Frankly, they are not. But I haven't thought too deeply about this - until now.
When my gut starts to churn, I know it's a warning sign. In the past, money or ego has been the driver in letting them through my intellectual and wide open door.
But I'm here to tell you, that when we do that, we become the donkey's ass. (Moral at end of the post!)
Aesop knew this already. By trying to be all things to all people (by letting dud clients/friends/associates dictate our own moral, integral and personal skill compass), we compromise our entire business model.
As I write up the attributes I would like my ideal clients to have, and reflect on personal friends who have those already, something glaring is hitting me between the eyes - I had rid myself of dud clients, disloyal friends, but there were still associations that needed pruning. When we immerse ourselves in a world that doesn't match our own, we can either hang in there for the tumultuous and uncertain journey, hoping that we come out the other end better people for it, or we can be pulled down into their world, and lose any self-awareness we once had. It will then be a brave person who is able to pull themselves back out.
Being clear about who you are, who you are selling to (whether for money or on a voluntary basis), and why you are doing it can also flow into your personal life. In fact, it SHOULD spill over. Clean up your clients, and your personal associations. To do one or the other is not enough.
So, what is Aesop's fable that teaches us the importance of knowing who we are, what we stand for, and who we want around us? Here it is! Enjoy. A fable worth coming back to when we get icky feelings about people who try and push into our creative selves and either attempt to steal it for themselves, or choke it, to match their own personal choking.
Why do we need to be clear about who we are as creatives? As people? Here's why!
"A MAN and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”
So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”
So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”
Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?”
The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.
“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:
“PLEASE ALL, AND YOU WILL PLEASE NONE.”"