I got the chance to hear a bloke called Richard Sauerman, whose nickname is ‘The Brand Guy’, speak yesterday at the drinks association’s Network Breakfast and he was AMAZING.
Richard used to work in advertising, but these days he helps individuals and companies define and enhance their brand.
Early in his presentation, he asked people to score themselves from 1-10 on how good they think they are at their job. The majority of people in the room – including me – gave themselves a 7.
Not surprisingly, that’s the response Richard gets every time he asks the question. Rating yourself as a 7 is nice and safe. Any higher and you sound like a wanker, any lower and you sound like a loser.
No one wants to stand out, they want to be one of the crowd, so they go for a 7.
But, as he pointed out, who wants to hire a 7? You want someone who’s an 8 to 10. What business wants to BE a 7 – they want to be an 8 to 10.
So why the hell are we so intent on categorising ourselves to our peers as a 7?
As someone who battles with an internal voice that constantly tells me I’m failing, it really got me thinking.
Richard also said: “Ask yourself: ‘What is my greatness’ and ‘What do I stand for?’”
My greatness WAS running a weekly magazine. I was (and am) confident that I was good at it. I had an eye for design. I knew what stories women were motivated to read. I effectively managed a large team of creative, sometimes mercurial staffers.
I was pretty shattered by the ugly way my magazine career ended. But I remind myself that bad things happen to good people. It’s impossible to predict when a workplace sociopath will cross your path and its tough to combat their brutal tactics.
So I’m looking for a new greatness. And fortunately I’ve found a supportive environment at the drinks association to repurpose my skills.
On a personal level, I stand for kindness. There seems to be a serious deficit of it in this digital age. I think the current epidemic of kids with anxiety points a finger at social media for its detached cruelty.
Can you be a 10 when you stand for kindness? Or are the attributes of a peak performer at odds with such a thing? Can you fight your way to the top without spilling blood in your wake?
I don’t know.
Richard reckons: “Everyone has greatness in them. You are in charge of your reality; you are responsible as well – is your glass half full or half empty?”
I had the chance to re-evaluate my glass when my husband left. I could have decided it was half empty … or even a quarter … and descended into bitter middle age as I see many people do post-divorce. But I chose to see it as half full and seek joy. There are still moments when it feels like I’m submerging into the opposite of joy, but on balance my life is far richer and happier than it has been for years.
Still, I saw a bit too much of myself in Richard’s ‘have to do’ versus ‘like to do’ list anecdote. He said “there’s always stuff that we have to do, but if your ‘have to do list’ is longer than your ‘like to do list’, there’s a problem because that’s not a good way to live.”
Too often my ‘have to do list’ feels overwhelmingly long.
And that’s something I need to change. It’s not an easy thing to change when you’re a single mum working full time, but there must be a way.
“Do you want to survive or thrive?” Richard asked.
Just surviving is no way to live your life. I want to thrive.
Richard reminded me I still have a long way to go on the HouseGoesHome road to recovery. People aren’t always going to like me for it, but I believe that sharing my journey has purpose and meaning, even if it stumbles into the mundane at times.
It reaches out to people, whether they’ve survived something similar, are on the same path or are facing it.
It tells them I’m there if they need a friend, whether they want to reach out or just read anonymously and know there’s someone who understands them.
How about you? What’s your greatness? What do you stand for?
Song of the day: Savage Garden “Affirmation”