Some thoughts are meant just for you. That sentence seems innocuous but honey let me tell you, it was life changing for me a little over a year ago. Through my former job, I was fortunate enough to work with a leadership coach. The first time I met my coach, when he walked into the room, I immediately felt like an investigative reporter – Who is he? Where did he come from? How did he learn to exude such confidence? How did he learn to put other people at ease all while delivering some harsh truths?
Questions like these kept coming to mind as I heard him speak, so I made it a point to introduce myself after the event we were attending. After the introductions, I complimented him and immediately asked him if we could meet for lunch because I would love to know more about him and his journey. Low-key… this was my way of getting my questions answered without appearing nosy.
No more than two weeks later, we met for lunch and I left lunch feeling as though I had just been to a therapist’s office, had a meeting with my priest, and was a guest on the show, Iyanla: Fix My Life. Let me tell you, as overwhelmed as I felt leaving that lunch, I wanted more. I knew in our brief interaction, I found someone who could reach through my defenses and help pull out the greatness within. Luckily through my powers of persuasion and proven value to the agency (at least in my opinion), I was able to get them to agree to pay for one-on-one leadership coaching. This is where the first of many life changes began. Let’s talk about one of the most important takeaways from our coaching relationship…thought bubbles.
My leadership coach taught me early on that all we have is our brand, our reputation. What we say goes a long way towards growing that brand or destroying it. Because I always prided myself on being “real”, I struggled with withholding what I thought. Prior to meeting my coach, I had done some work on my own to limit my realness to situations where I was asked a question or asked to provide an opinion. Prior to this I was handing out opinions like free samples. So color me shocked when he tells me that all my thoughts don’t have to be verbalized. Wait what?!!! You mean that I don’t get to share every. single. real. thought I have for the betterment of humanity? Say it ain’t so! After I finished my Academy Award worthy performance, I buckled in to listen and learn.
My coach said, you are entitled to think whatever you want in response to a situation, but depending on what you want your brand to be, not every thought bubble can be shared out loud. Hmm, tell me more, right? Essentially, you may want to tell someone off, call them stupid, let out an F bomb (or two), but if those sentiments are incongruent with your brand, they should stay inside as a thought bubble. Because I have an overactive imagination and more importantly, because I think I am funny, I pictured all of my gems going to go to the place where thought bubbles go to die and that made me sad.
“Determine who you are and what your brand is, and what you’re not. The rest of it is just a lot of noise.” - Geoffrey Zakarian
All that drama aside at the end of the day, I was able to reflect on this information and turn it into something that I felt was authentic to living my BAM life and who I was becoming. I realized that filtering my thought bubbles is not inauthentic to who I am becoming. Let’s be clear, I can become a person who says the craziest things, who doesn’t care about leaving a legacy of greatness, if I chose to but I make a conscious decision every conversation about which thought bubbles are shared and which ones are for my consumption alone.
Though this post specifically discusses thought bubbles, you can expand this lesson to any thought or action that is contrary to your brand. So thought bubbles aside, I have the worst case of RBF. I have graduated to a formerly unseen level of side eye. My face speaks louder than my actual words. I attribute this to my being a shy kid who was unable to contain her greatness so her face did the speaking she was too shy to do. I share that because now that I have worked on which thoughts I let escape my lips, I now have to learn how to manage my facial expressions. Though, I would like to say this should be an easy fix in light of what I have already learned. It is proving harder than I imagined. Anyway, I know that living a BAM life is a process and not one that occurs overnight. So I look forward to writing the post where I can share the steps that I took to conquer my RBF. Until then…
“There is no professional or personal reputation anymore. There’s simply your brand. Everything you do affects your brand, and it’s up to you to determine whether your brand is affected positively or negatively. That’s it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.” -Peter Shankman
The final word…what I learned was that not all of my thought bubbles reflect my brand or the person I am becoming and by keeping them inside, I am actually being real to me.