About twenty years ago, when I first began my personal development journey, I had a teacher who would often say, “There is nothing more attractive than someone so thoroughly focused on what they are doing, that they are not thinking about themselves.” At the time, I took it to mean that the more I was focused on what I was doing, the less self-conscious I would be and, therefore, the more confident I would appear to be. It took many years to discover what he was really saying, was this: “There is a sexiness that comes from being totally committed to something.” Whether an artist, teacher or politician, the personal power that is inherent in someone who is so passionate about…something…is very attractive. The benefits of having something to stand for, go beyond just appearing to be more attractive; standing for something can actually provide the driving force for your life.
Many of us are continually faced with having to make choices we are unsure of. I experience this, my clients experience this and I see it, and hear it, from friends and family. “I don’t know what to do,” is a statement we have all declared at one time or another. When someone tells me they don’t know what to do, my first question is usually, “What do you want?” Most who have not interacted with me, are often stumped by this question initially. The truth is, we are not taught to really consider our desires and preferences, as most of us tend to operate in a survival mode of some sort, and it starts early. Something very interesting occurs, however, when a person goes from “stopped and unsure” to considering what is possible. Asking a man what he actually wants takes his brain into a space of creation versus being at-effect.
Several years ago, I was preparing to lead a group of teens in a personal development program. There was a fourteen-year-old who wore earbuds and her hood over her head. She would not talk to anyone or look at anyone in the face. When her mom asked her questions, she would harshly snap responses at her, and it was clear she did not want to be there. I asked the girl if we could speak for a moment before the program began and she reluctantly said, “fine.” We found a corner of the room, I introduced myself and asked, “You don’t want to be here, do you?”
She said no, and I replied, “I know and it’s ok. You do not have to stay if you don’t want to. I am here to support you, even if you choose to leave. What we are planning to do today is really an opportunity to look at what you want to experience in your life. You get to say what that is, what that looks like and I get to support you in having that. I would really love to have you participate if that sounds interesting to you, and if not, that is ok too.”
She finally looked up at me and I assured her, “If you choose to participate and then decide you don’t want to stay, you always have the option to leave.” Her face lit up and she said she would give it a try. An hour later, she was beaming from ear to ear, bouncing around the room and excited for what was possible for her in her life. I knew in our conversation that no one had spoken with her like she was an actual person, and that no one had ever really asked her what she wanted and desired for herself. Her transformation was magical, and that moment is something that will always stay with me. In fact, I ran into her a couple of years later, and she was still beaming!
The other thing that became clear was that the words I said weren’t what made the difference; it was what I was standing for. I knew, and she knew, that I was standing for her; I was not interested in what her mom wanted; I was not concerned with how many teens were in the program I was leading. I was solely focused on what was going to empower the young woman standing in front of me. I spoke the words because of my stance. My commitment was what gave me access to say the things that resonated. If I had come from any other place—trying to convince her, trying to satisfy her mom, concerned with the number of people in the program—she would have been left with more of the same she had already been experiencing in her life.
What you stand for informs your words, actions, and the direction you take. This is why, when I have a client who is unsure of what to do, I ask them what they want. The clearer it is for them, and the clearer the “why,” the more certainty there is with which choices to make. I have found for myself that consciously creating what I am standing for before I write a book, an article, produce a video or respond to Facebook comments, makes a huge difference in how it is received. Of course, there is no way to guarantee that everyone will respond in the same way to me, however, knowing what I am standing for gives me the peace of mind to know when I “get it right” and also how to navigate “getting it wrong.”
What is important to you? What are the things that you desire to experience and have others experience in life? What are you standing for? I invite you to get clear on that and take action.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com