People who know me know me. I’m exactly who I am no matter where I go. People who know me from my direct sales business aren’t shocked when they see how I behave in the grocery store. People who know me from church aren’t surprised at my behavior on a temp assignment.
Years ago I decided that it was too much effort to try to be one person around one group of people and another person around another group of people. I went to a rather strict Christian college. At the time I was married to my ex-husband and living off campus. On campus I was the very image of propriety. Off campus I was a foul-mouthed person who often did and said things that would have shocked my classmates. One day during a break from a January-term class I slipped on ice going down the steps outside the student union. I wasn’t badly hurt, but I did yell out a profanity as I hit the pavement. I was alone, but the crisp, cool, January air let that my shout echo throughout the campus. I was mortified.
That incident made me look at how I spoke. I realized then that having different vocabularies for different areas of my life didn’t work. With a lot of work I purged a lot of inappropriate words from my vocabulary. I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a few more years to realize the value of being completely genuine in every way.
I can’t tell you how freeing it is to know that if someone from church overhears my conversation with a co-worker or an interaction with a store clerk they will recognize me as the same woman who plays with their children on Sunday morning.
This spills over into my business as well. I’ve talked a lot on this blog about the importance of building relationships to my business success. I think a big part of the reason I connect well with my customers is that they recognize that I’m just being myself.
Of course, you have to know who you are before you can truly be yourself around everyone. I think this gets easier as we get older. Still, taking a good, hard look at who you want to be is the first step.