I’ve been thinking a lot about myself lately, not in the “you’re so vain” kinda way, actually opposite of that, in the “you’ve got a long way to go” kinda way. And in this time of self-diagnosis, I’ve come across something very interesting. I was accused lately of building my own brand on the back of my company, of being narcissistic. I’ll have to be honest and say at first thought, it was easy for me to dismiss it. I certainly don’t feel it, I feel I do spend a lot more time telling people how I DON’T have it together than time that I do. I don’t feel any kind of action has benefitted me in any way. Most folks know of my skill set, they know of what I’ve accomplished, and what I support. So, at first I didn’t get it.
But, after thinking long and hard about it, I think I get where they’re coming from. (And let me say this, I don’t think said people we’re coming from a terrible space, I’ve certainly been only supportive of and respectful to them in any way, I just think it was a frustrated perception.) (To which I could also be wrong about.) Thinking about it caused me to dig deep, and really take to heart the things that were said. After all, life is about learning, it’s about acknowledging that you DON’T know it all, and that you can always learn something. And I’ve always believed there’s learning all around you, if you’re willing to admit you don’t know it all. So, learn, I will.
In thinking to the core about what was said, I turned to my own actions, not my intentions, since we know full well intentions are not good for much these days. I turned to the things I say, the things I post on social media, the things written about me. And I acknowledge there were times I used the word “I” that I could have used “we.” After all, life is a team effort, I certainly don’t wanna do it all on my own. Then, I look at things I’d posted at realized, there were things that I posted out of being proud of myself that could easily be misunderstood as making myself look better to others. And why? Well, I had to go back a ways.
Growing up, I was told by my Dad, whose birthday we would have celebrated today, that I’d never amount to anything. That I was stupid. And my whole entire adult life, I’ve tried to make something of myself in light of those words. It causes me to work hard, to set high goals, and to try and make something better of myself. Very much like the words of “A Boy Named Sue” from Johnny Cash, his words have achieved their goals of challenging me to become something better. And because of that, when something is posted about me, in print or online, it’s a very proud moment for me. Especially with the self-doubt I’ve faced from my own self, all the times I’ve felt inferior to so many I’ve worked alongside, because again, it never feels like enough. When I post about being in a magazine, I post it because I want my Mom to be proud of me for the hard work I’ve done to get there. I post it because I want my wife to be proud of me for all the times I’ve failed her, and deep down, despite knowing he’s not alive, I want my Dad to be proud of me.
So, is it pride? Is it building my own brand? Wow, I sure don’t think it is, I hope it’s not. But I could learn a lot more about humility and putting others before myself, which is precisely what I intend to learn on our trip to Uganda next week.