© 2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
If you squeeze an orange, what comes out? Yes—orange juice! Orange juice is the inner nature of the orange. Cute, huh? But seriously, if you get squeezed by stress, what’s your inner nature that comes out? Do you laugh? Do you get cranky and swear at people? Do you get very quiet and stand there thinking peacefully before you speak? Last time you were very stressed, what came out of you?
Overall, what are the qualities that are true of you? Are you pleasant, funny, loyal, outgoing, a football expert, smart, articulate, and fit? Are you quiet, introverted, deep, artistic, incredibly productive, and always on time? Are you routinely spacey, but you’re an amazing violinist who does get to rehearsals and performances on time? One thing is for sure: whatever people believe about you is what makes up your REPUTATION. And people can’t possibly know you as well as you know yourself.
So let’s do two quick lists. Got pen in hand, or the Notes section of your iPhone or equivalent? Good. Now, for list number one, jot down all the things that are true of you. This is character and packaging. Personality, grooming, habits, abilities, interests, sports, faith/philosophy…all count. These are your TRUTH. Now make the second list: all the qualities that others know of you. These make up your REPUTATION. While you are still pondering your lists, I’ll offer an example.
Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.
~ John Wooden
My friend of 20 years, Judith Holdsworth, died a few weeks ago. As far as most of us knew, it was sudden. She had had some abdominal discomfort, and when she went to a hospital for tests, they kept her a few days. Then she went to hospice for a week, and then she died, mainly of pancreatic cancer. At the memorial service, friends and colleagues shared about Judith. What qualities were true of her? She was a beautifully groomed, perfect-skinned, smart, kind, articulate giver. Under her perfect appearance, I knew she had massive scars and pain from a career-ending auto accident in Washington DC, in her late ‘50’s; Judith had been a patient of mine. A disability advisor in her ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Judith went on to specialize in advising seniors on access to Medicare and other benefits. She volunteered for not one, but three, nonprofits that helped seniors. Always pleasant, with a sparkling smile, even when she recounted dozens of calls needed to straighten out her parents’ prescriptions, she ended her comment with, “oh, you knoooooowww!” and a certain trilling laugh. I imitated that tone and laugh at the memorial service, and everyone laughed knowingly and admiringly. So what did people know of her? What was her reputation? They only knew the sparkle, the skill, the knowledge, the kindness, and the giving.
Some time back, someone said I was snarky because I made an affectionately humorous remark, which made a large audience laugh. I was commenting on a nonprofit’s newsletter, which was being brought to a new level that year, with columns and other features. A man sent me an email condemning me for making the humorous remark, saying I was snarky, even though I made it warmly, as part of sharing that I am now one of the columnists. I was urging people to get the newsletter and read it and my column. He took the view that I was deprecating the newsletter (was he LISTENING?) and he specifically said that “Joe”, the President of that nonprofit, would be Very Disappointed. Now hold on. I am excessively kind, and everyone knows it. But my reputation was under stress! Name might be spreading around the idea that I was meanspirited. No small thing to ponder.
My reputation is too important to put it aside for purposes of some friendship.
~ Stephanie Tubbs Jones
I prayed and slept on this. Normally, I recommend you NEVER write a letter to try to straighten something out. It will normally only make a greater mess, and the offender you’re writing to will take the position that YOU started it and offended HIM/HER. However, based on my experience and the reputation of Name, I know many have been on the receiving end of sharp unwarranted criticism.
In the morning, I wrote back: “[Name], there are molehills, there are mountains, and then there are complete misinterpretations. Try to remember that I am on the Board of Directors of XYZ Nonprofit. And had you been at this month’s Board meeting, you would have heard Joe inviting a discussion of how we can increase readership. You would have heard a very positive discussion, in which the Board decided to introduce columns and to pay the Editor, as well as creating some changes in the format. Also, the Board appointed a new Editor. If you knew me, you would know that I am deeply committed to the positive on every level of life and work.” (I am known for being loving, quiet, deep, peaceful, sometimes very funny, fashionable, creative, hard-working, highly effective, giving, intensely loyal, grounded, and always kind.)
Based on what I know my reputation to be, I was able to stand up to Name. He actually capitulated and said he did not mean to be offensive. Good! He is actually the one known for being snarky.
So back to your lists: who are you, to others and to yourself? Is your truth consistent with your reputation? Is it time people knew you better? And what do you want to be known for? For the least stress, live your truth. Stay in your Upbeat Living. Don’t borrow anyone else’s list. And let me know how this evolves for you.
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Energy – Peace – Meditation
- Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), plus the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition(http://tinyurl.com/mqg3uvc ). Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com.
- For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: firstname.lastname@example.org .