When I’m nervous about something that I have coming up, I often neglect to tell the people close to me. People used to think that it’s because I was secretive—some still do—but that’s not why I do this. Believe it or not, y’all, I actually don’t love keeping my stuff from you.
I highly regard the opinions of the people I love. I don’t think I’m a person who lives my whole life being afraid of what “other people” think, but I do care to know what my village thinks.
But then there’s the part of my that puts this insane pressure on myself. The part of me that doesn’t want to ruin the image of myself that I feel they might have of me. Whether that’s an image I’ve presented to them, or that they presented to me, if I have allowed them to believe it, then I think it should be true.
And, in my eyes, that would happen if I talk about the thing coming up, let them witness the thing coming up, and watch me fail at it.
But in keeping my upcoming accomplishments a secret from my family, from my friends, from my close colleagues, I also keep my upcoming support away from myself.
I withhold the opportunity to be congratulated and loved on. And, when I’m doing that, I’m forgetting that the accomplishment is only half as sweet if there’s no one in the stands to cheer for you and hug you when it’s over.
My fear of failing in front of the people I value the most, keeps me from winning in front of the people that I value the most.
And, sometimes, I struggle to remember that people who love you and support you enjoy loving and supporting you. Keeping them from being able to do that is selfish. It’s a part of the deal.
You give them something to be proud of, you work on something they believe in — i.e. you continue to work on you, who they believe in — and they get to be proud.
They get to brag about you.
They get to tell everybody that they know you.
And, where appropriate, they get to take credit for parts of your success. Because you and I both know that we don’t get anywhere without our teams.
None of us are islands.
Recently, I started to forget this again.
I got invited to speak on a radio show about my work. And I was nervous. I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t know how to articulate what Brand Therapy is and how I go about helping my clients. I wasn’t nervous because I had never been interviewed before.
I was nervous because for a moment, my village would be able to watch me in action, live. And there would a recording floating around the web for digital eternity. And I wasn’t ready for my family and my friends to witness that live and be disappointed.
Again, this wasn’t my first speaking opportunity—but it was the first one that I couldn’t rehearse for that everyone who wanted to could easily access live.
I don’t know how badly it would’ve needed to go for me to feel like I failed, but I also didn’t want to find out. Still, I told some people—at the last minute.
And, just as my family and friends would have tried to convince me it would, the show went well.
I was happy that I had this opportunity and did the show, but it was the outpouring of love from the people who I care so much about that made it so worth doing.
After the show last night I felt accomplished. Not just because I sat down and answered some questions about myself and pop culture (which for me is a feat in itself) and actually made sense of the work I do, but because of the messages that I got from people who took the time to listen live or made the effort to call in, or find a combination of ways to support me.
It was the “I’m proud of you” messages and the “I’m so happy for you” messages. It was walking out of the studio and my phone being lit up by people who had taken the time to listen to me, by choice.
During the interview I was asked, “What is a question that you would ask the client who is thinking about doing a rebrand.”
I ask every person that I work with “Why are you doing this?”
Before I got on this radio show I forgot to ask myself that question about this one particular event.
Why was I doing this?
Networking, of course.
Practice speaking live, definitely.
But this particular moment wasn’t just for me.
Moments like these also serve to remind the people who support me that they’re not doing it in vain. That for every time they had to listen to me vent about what being a solo entrepreneur is like, that there is an event like this around the corner.
Or for every time, at the last minute, I had to tell them I can’t do something, they know that I’m working on something to show for it.
Or that on days that I’m really down and they think that maybe I should go back to something more conventional or a little more stable, they get to witness me securing an opportunity that I wouldn’t have gotten by doing something more secure and more stable.
These moments give them something to point at and say, “look at what my family can do”. These moments give the children in my family someone to point out and say, “I know I can do that because someone in my family has already done that”.
So, while it’s perfectly fine to be shy and to be nervous, it is not perfectly fine to keep my wins to myself—because my wins are not only mine.
And if there’s a chance that win might turn into a fail, I’m probably still gonna need my village.
Knowing my village, I’m sure that they would rather be there to support me through that fail than to know that I suffered alone.
If you’ve been nodding your head along with this post because you do these things also, please stop. Please open yourself up to the support that your people want to give you. If you don’t have that kind of support, find a new village.
If you’re nodding along because someone you know does this, please send this to them. But also, ask yourself if you’re offering the type of support they need (if you feel excluded). Ask them the same thing.
A good village wants you to win. A good village helps you win. A good village should get to celebrate your victories with you.