Stop worrying about what other people might think

A colleague of mine, Ian Brodie, writes a good email story. I’d thoroughly recommend checking him out. He sent an email out late last week telling a story which really hit home.

I care passionately about what people think about me and the things I’m associated with, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. However, I think you can worry too much – which is Ian’s story:

So, about 20 minutes or so into a webinar I was running for Momentum Club members yesterday on “How To Win High End Clients” and our doorbell rings…

It’s my parents. They’ve been visiting and have just come back from a vist to the shops. The doorbell rings again. The kids are supposed to answer the door but they don’t. Probably up in the loft on the Xbox. The doorbell rings again. I can’t leave my parents out in the cold so I have to apologise to the webinar attendees and head off to let them in.

A rather quiet 10 seconds later and I’m back on the webinar feeling rather embarrassed.

The idea that you could be perceived as ever so slightly unprofessional, don’t have a butler to answer the door on your behalf or hadn’t arranged for your parents to be more organised would have hurt me too. But guess what, you’re human…So, how did Ian respond?

I quickly realised that nothing bad actually happened. I’m pretty certain that no one on the webinar suddenly started thinking “well, Ian was talking sense about winning high end clients. But now he’s answered the door he doesn’t seem quite so credible”.

Like most people, I worry rather too much about my “image”.  About looking professional. Not having any hiccups. Sometimes caring about our image holds us back. We never finish that great article about a topic we think is important because we’re worried what other people might think.

Ian closes his email with some sage advice.

The truth is that if people like you, you have useful insights to share, and you do your very best to help them; then they won’t really care if you have the odd hiccup. In fact it kind of adds to your appeal. You’re fallible like them. Don’t let wanting to “look professional” hold you back.

My take?

Your Personal Brand is everything – how people perceive you, how they describe you when you’re not there will eventually determine your success as a coach or consultant. However, you can take this to extremes. Being human, is also important. No one likes to work with a robot.

It’s actually OK to tell people, “no – I’m picking my children up from school then”… or “no – I’m afraid I don’t work weekends” or “no – I can’t fit that in (you should have been more organised) I’ve other clients ahead in the queue…” Chances are they will respect you more for being human and for being honest.

It’s good to remind yourself once in a while that you can’t and shouldn’t be looking to please everyone all the time.

Thanks for that reminder Ian.

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