Today's Draw: Three of Wands from the Art of Life Tarot. Is there a behavior or quality of yours that makes you cringe? Have you ever tried to make it your friend instead of your enemy? Is it possible that it's the essential dash of nutmeg in the secret sauce of yummy you-ness?
This is very relevant for me today. See, I communicate pretty well through the written word, but don't do as well through the spoken word. Especially when I'm talking about myself. I tend to undervalue myself. Or say something stupid. Or do something that otherwise keeps me from standing in my own power. Then, because I'm hard on myself, I kick myself for it.
Minutes after I sold myself short and kicked myself for it today, I saw this John O'Donohue quote on Facebook, "If you try to avoid or remove the awkward quality, it will pursue you. The only effective way to still its unease is to transfigure it, to let it become something creative and positive that contributes to who you are. Nietzsche said that one of the best days in his life was the day when he rebaptized all his negative qualities as his best qualities. Rather than banishing what is at first glimpse unwelcome, you bring it home to unity with your life…..One of your sacred duties is to exercise kindness toward them. In a sense, you are called to be a loving parent to your delinquent qualities."
Considering the positives of this quality of mine, I decided that it actually makes me a pleasant surprise...haha. Because if my undervaluation lowers expectations, it not only relieves the stress on me to live up to a lofty image, but also makes it possible for me to exceed the expectations I originally put forth. So then I become a pleasant surprise! And who wouldn't want to be that? :D
It's funny that at the same time I wonder why I'm underestimated or misunderstood, I'm cultivating that very behavior by not standing in my own power. I'm guessing some of you do that, too. It's also funny that, as an advertising copywriter, I have a gift for accentuating the benefits in every product and service in the world—except when the product is me. This behavior isn't about being humble, either. I'm pretty sure it grew out of an overcompensation to avoid being considered arrogant.
Not that long ago, someone introduced me to a client by saying, essentially, "she's not just a copywriter, she thinks she's psychic. She's into all that tarot reading stuff. Tell them about your tarot, Tierney." This person was counting on the client judging me negatively based on my beliefs. They were counting on my credibility being trashed.
Normally I might have meekly admitted, "yes, I read tarot," then changed the topic back to the business at hand. But on this particular occasion I had tired of this person's passive-aggression and said, "actually I'm a best selling author in the tarot category and have a five-star product on Amazon.com. I've created a few decks, in fact. I'm kind of a moderately known quantity in that world." The client thought that was pretty cool. And, hopefully, he saw my colleague's behavior as inappropriate as I did. My tarot has little bearing on my career as an advertising copywriter, except to show that I'm not a one-trick pony. Like my colleague. :D
I relate that story because I find it interesting that I won't allow others to undervalue me, yet I'll willingly undervalue myself. Part of it is awkward social skills. But in the spirit of this post, that particular flavor of awkward social skills tempers the confidence I have when it comes to actually doing the work. That confidence, when accompanied by slick social skills, could be off-putting and intimidating.
As I'm thinking about this, it occurs to me that most of the work I get doesn't come from selling myself (or selling myself short). It comes through referral from clients who believe in me and value our working relationship. And, as I've said many times in the past, I have the Best Clients in the World™. So it's good people telling the good people they know that I'm a good person...haha. And that formula has worked for me for 17 years. So my awkward self promotion skills probably protect me from the people looking for glitz over substance.
So if I put the two quotes together, they're kind of saying that, instead of running away from your awkwardness, examine the role it plays in your life. We should always continue to grow and stretch, but trying to change a behavior of ours that we don't even understand can work against us. So be who you are—and know the value behind why that is—and use that knowledge to guide your becoming. Sometimes the thing we wish most to change can be a necessary lynchpin in our secret to success.