An Exaggeration

It's Personal, Life, Obstacles/Challenges, Random Observations, Reflection, Uncategorized, Writing

Seth Godin recently published this very short post:

A parody of yourself

A simple test for brands, organizations and individuals:

When you exaggerate the things that people associate with you, your presence and your contribution, does it make you a better version of yourself?

When Seth gets it right (which is often), he gets it really really right.  I’ve been thinking about this question since I saw the post and damn.  What *do* people associate with me, my presence, my contribution?  I know what I want them to associate with me, and I make an effort to focus on those traits.

But what can I do about those unknown things – the personal quirks and habits and unlikeable bits that I’m unaware of?  The things that people who love me don’t care about but could nevertheless impact my ability to accomplish my goals?  Self-awareness and reflection get me to a certain point, but how do I get past all the doubt and uncertainty and accept that I’m just a human?  A normal human who has normal human-y quirks and habits and oddities?

I thought about doing a self-parody but stopped that idea right in its tracks.  I’m not in the best place to parody myself from a helpful, funny perspective and it’s far too easy to think of myself as a ridiculous monster.  Untrue, of course, but that’s what too much navel-gazing gets me.

So…going out on a limb, I’m going to answer Seth’s question with a “yes.”  People tell me that I’m creative, engaged, warm, attentive, and kind, and those are traits that only make me better 🙂

Is she gay?

It's Personal, Laughter, Life, Uncategorized, Writing

This is a question that has hovered around me for years and I’m finally amused enough to put my thoughts in writing.  I’ve been mistaken for a man a couple of times – once by a police officer who pulled me over for speeding (yes, I was speeding) but hurriedly backed off after calling me “sir” and realizing I wasn’t a “sir.”  Another time, a waitress walked up to our booth and, seeing only the back of my head, called me “sir,” then fumbled around correcting her mistake.  In both of these cases, it seemed that their mistake was most likely caused by my short hair and broad shoulders, which they saw only from behind and when I was seated.

Cause, honestly, there ain’t no damn way I could be mistaken for a man otherwise, regardless of my sexual orientation.  For people who don’t know me IRL, there’s just a smidgen too much packed in the trunk up front to ever be mistaken for male anatomy. But back to the question at hand “Is she gay?” The answer is…

None of your fucking business. Literally.  Who I fuck is none of your business.

I don’t care about the question, I don’t care that people ask it, or that they can’t pin down whether I prefer boys or girls or turtles or leather couches.  In fact, I often go out of my way to cloud the issue.  I’m an equal opportunity flirt, sometimes an equal opportunity snuggler and hugger and hand-holder.  I love my female friends and male friends equally, and am equally physically affectionate.  I dance as a follow and a lead, and I’m not squeamy about other ladies’ boobs touching my boobs, or getting sexy when leading someone – male or female.

In short – I don’t care what other people think about my orientation.  The only reason my orientation should ever be your business is if you want to ask me out.  If that’s the case, ask and I’ll say yes or no and maybe that will be based on my orientation and maybe it won’t.  I find it flattering when anyone thinks I’m compelling and attractive enough to want to go out with, and if I’m not interested, I’ll let you know right up front.

I realize this makes some people uncomfortable, but that isn’t about my choices or behavior, or even my appearance.  It’s about their discomfort when they can’t put me in a category, or definitively label me this or that.  As I write this, I realize that everyone who has ever defied gender stereotypes has probably said the same thing.  I feel a little like a fake because I’m not sure I’m defying anything, I just don’t think it’s anyone’s business and I’m secure enough in my sexual identity to not need anyone else’s approval or understanding.

I also approach this the same way I approach dancing.  If I only ever follow or only ever lead, I miss out on 50% of all the best dancers and that’s a LOT of missed opportunity.  The same is true in this aspect of my life – if I focus all my desire for physical contact not only to one sex, but confined strictly to the *realm* of sexual activity, I miss out on 50% of all the best hugs and friend snuggles.  That’s a high percentage of loss and hey, I’m not a loser.

Behind the Curtain

Change/Transformation, It's Personal, Laughter, Leadership, Reflection, Uncategorized, Writing

I’ve been interested in leadership – theory and practice – and in various styles of leadership for many years.  Recently, I’ve been exploring the structure of Servant Leadership and have found that most of what I teach my students falls directly into this framework.  Not only do I take a Servant Leadership approach, I teach them to be Servant Leaders.  I don’t discuss it in those terms, but I train them in listening, compassion, kindness, supporting others, empathy, foresight, and care for the world.  I’m training them, hoping to seed the world with these budding humans.

It’s amusing, the internal conflicts that arise from considering myself a Servant Leader, amusing and sometimes aggravating.  As an ambitious, intelligent, and talented professional, I want credit for my work – I want to be acknowledged for my accomplishments, my dedication, and my passion.  But Servant Leadership is about leading from behind and beside, commitment to the growth of others, and not so much about being the star.

So where does this leave me?  Struggling between wanting acknowledgement and internalizing an approach that focuses on strengthening and developing others, it seems.  But even as my internal conflict sputters along, I know that I have chosen the right path, and that my desire for personal glory is fleeting compared to building resilient, compassionate human beings.  If asked how I manage my craving for personal acknowledgment with continuing to work as a servant leader, I don’t know what I would say.

Even writing a blog post about it feels uncomfortable – calling attention to myself in an un-servant-like way.  But it is true – I consider myself in this way and most of my decisions about what to do and how to do it come from this paradigm.  Writing this post feels awkward and uncomfortable, as it should.  I’m acknowledging my sticky, prickly human nature, and bringing her out from behind the curtain.