That’s the question I kept asking myself as I drove out of the Whole Foods parking lot over the weekend. To be fair, I was definitely backing out of my parking spot slowly. (When you load your groceries on top of a stroller in the trunk of your Prius it blocks most of your visibility. So I had decided to do quadruple checks over both shoulders to ensure I didn’t hit anyone or anything as I pulled out.)
My windows were down, as I allowed the initial stink from my AC to blow out, and during my final head check over my left should I locked eyes with what appeared to be an 80-something man.
He also had his windows down. And I heard him scream at me, “Hurry up you slow, stupid b*tch.”
I replayed the incident the majority of my twenty minute drive home. While part of my wanted to laugh at the multiple layers of humor surrounding the fact that an older adult pulling out of a handicapped space at Whole Foods on a Sunday was suffering from a serious case of the snarkies, his use of the word “stupid” was really bumming me out.
I was fine being called “slow.” I’ve been called the “b” word before – and accept that it’s the downside of having a strong point of view. But “stupid”? That’s the insult that stung.
And I’m glad.
When I was a women’s studies student at UNLV, one of my professors shared during a lecture that she once asked her husband, “Which do you think I am more – beautiful or smart?” She knew she had married the right man when he said “smart,” although to be fair the stakes weren’t all that high for her since she was pretty foxy too.
At the time, a couple of my friends sitting next to me whispered, “I would be heartbroken if my husband said that to me.” But I agreed 100 percent with my professor. I have always wanted first and foremost to be recognized for my ideas.
While I can brush off most criticisms, if you want to really hurt me, insult my intelligence. I’ll apparently still be recovering half a week later.
As I wind down the first year of Influencer Academy, I find myself asking this of my women a lot. “What do you want to be recognized for?”
It’s not my business whether one’s answer is “pretty”, “funny”, “philanthropic”, “transformational”, “smart”, or anything else. But…it is my business, my life’s work, to ensure that people are clear on their answer and use their influence in all areas of their lives to present themselves as such.
In my early career I wasted a lot of time getting in my own way of who I wanted to be seen as. While I was pretty successful in high school and college at owning my ideas, irrespective of the cost, by the time I was in my mid-twenties I was terrified that people wouldn’t like me or I wouldn’t get promoted if I said what I really thought. It was shortly after I discovered TED talks as a public speaking professor that I realized I had a lot of “ideas worth spreading.” And if I allowed fear and ego to stop me from sharing them, I was never going to be the person I aspired to be. I would never make the impact I knew I was put on this crazy planet to make.
So now I ask you. What do you want to be recognized for? And how are you ensuring that you use your influence to solidify this identity in the heads and hearts of the people in your company and community?
Please let me know.
Leave a comment. Or send me an email.
Decide that you are ready to become the person you know you can be.