We’d all like to be stronger. Whether that strength be physical, emotional or intellectual, most of us have an area in which we’d like to improve and have others admire. Seth Godin took a short look at ways to demonstrate that strength on a day-to-day basis. I thought I’d add some context to 7 of them and further the discussion. I’m hoping you’ll add some of your insights in a comment. I learn a lot from you all and your feedback is much-appreciated!
If you make a practice of looking for your wrongs and working to set them right you’ll be viewed not only as a strong individual, but also as a great human.
I once lived with a friend who says “I’m sorry” in response to just about everything. At first it was annoying. Then I realized, over time, that I felt comfortable talking to her about stuff she did or said that bothered me. I knew she’d apologize and all I had to do was be ready to forgive and reciprocate in case I’d done or uttered a recent annoyance. That can be really, really hard at first. Apologizing isn’t easy because you’re not just admitting to a failure, you’re opening yourself up for the possibility that your apology will be turned down!
2. Defer to others
Letting others take the helm frees you up to offer needed guidance to even more talented people who will respect your strength and credit you with helping their ideas come to life.
Deference goes against nearly all the notions of expertise propagated online. Some will tell you to interrupt, disrupt, corner your niche, and force your expertise on others. Deferring to others and revealing your worth slowly takes not just strength but belief that what you have to offer is useful in the long run. More on that soon.
3. Avoid shortcuts
As you’re making sure doing great doesn’t get in the way of getting things done, make sure to protect against temptations to take shortcuts.
A few years ago I told a restaurateur just starting out that he should cut corners on things his customers wouldn’t notice. That was terrible advice. In truth he should have worked to do a better job at bringing attention to all the amazing things his business was doing that people might not notice without some help. It takes true strength to avoid shortcuts because taking the longer route often involves more client calls, more apologies and time away from things you’d rather be working on. It’s worth it though. It’s worth it.
4. Tell the truth
Telling the truth from the get-go will help you avoid situations in which telling the truth could mean the end of something otherwise magnificent.
We could talk for days about strategic avoidance, glossing over, side-stepping, and myriad other ways to re-frame a lie as something middling. Let’s not. Instead I’ll ask you to consider how telling the truth relates to the notion of living honestly. “Telling the truth” often feels like something momentary. The truth is something you blurt out. That takes strength, for sure. Living honestly takes it to a whole new level of fascinating beauty.
5. Offer kindness
Kindness offered to the stranger passing by, in response to unkindness, or just because you can offer it is the sort of kindness that changes the world.
Random acts of kindness are great if you’re in the habit of showing kindness as part of your daily life. But as life gets busy and we forget about the smaller things, the kindness can be the first to go. What if you were to schedule kindness into your day? What if you kept a checklist of the number of times you offered a kind word to a coworker or helped without being asked? This is a version of faking it until you make it that has only positive results. Get started!
6. Volunteer to take the short straw
When an unwanted project or difficult punishment is up for grabs, offering to take it shows you’re strong enough to take the hard stuff in stride.
Volunteering to do the grunt work on a project you rank high enough to walk away from shows everybody you work with that you’re strong and still in the game. Willingness to take the fall for a group mistake and be the one to find a solution is an opportunity to again demonstrate your true strength. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier. Don’t worry. You’ll eventually forget about how difficult it was. You probably don’t even remember what you had for breakfast last Tuesday. See? Forgetful!
7. Share credit and be public in your gratitude
Sharing credit and thanking others for their contributions in public adds to the view that you’re a value-added sort of person.
We’ve all had somebody take credit for something we helped with and felt the resentment grow in our chests. Not being recognized and thanked for our work is wretched! Next time you’re in a room filled with people and somebody calls your name to take an award, remember that everybody in that room has been slighted before and will get a kick out of how you share the spotlight.