I’m a great coach. I’m good at reading people. I know the right thing to say—although I don’t always say it; work hard to treat people with respect and use words of life; try to leave out the extra fluff—sometimes to the extreme. I seem to ride the roller coaster from too nice to too honest. Coach is a boring brand. I need to re-brand myself.
I’m in a transition in life, sorting out my past successes and failures, my current situation and trying to process how they set the stage for my legacy. I’ve had a number of lessons, actually repeats of the same lesson but sometimes it takes me a while to recognize that it is a lesson. Then more time to learn the content of the lesson. I’m not looking for lessons from Bet-z, my 2-year-old but that is where it came from. That was pretty closed minded for such a “great” coach, to not be ready and aware of learning opportunities everywhere. God will send us His wisdom any way he wants when we (I) ask for it.
Let me begin with this story: As parents it is important that we find real successes, real victories that our children experience in life, things within their control and praise them for that. I’ve been doing that with all my children to the best of my ability. As I’ve watched Bet-z recently we’ve been encouraging her to use her soft touch and hugs with her little brother Spencer (10 months old). When I catch her hugging him “just right”, I send out that blast of praise.
I launched my praise, “Bet-z, that was good soft touch, you are nice.”
She stopped and turned to look me in the eye and responded, “No, Daddy I’m Lizzy.” (that’s the name she hears most from her sisters—I hope we’re not giving her an identity crisis at two with Elizabeth, Lizzy, and Bet-z)
A huge grin came across my face and I was filled with peace, compassion, and joy—but I didn’t see the lesson. On another occasion, she was bravely going into a dark room on her own and I commended, “Bet-z, you are brave.”
The response came again, “No, Daddy I’m Lizzy.”
I don’t remember being just “Brian”, I don’t remember longing to be “Brian”. What I do remember though, is I spent much of my life trying to figure out who I am and what I wanted. And here’s my little girl, just wanting to be Lizzy. Only wanting to be herself, nothing else, no compliment, no extra praise. Can I be two again? NO. Can I accept myself for who I am? Yes! Can I be me? Yes!
I spent too much time in my life being a Camp Counselor, a Ski Racing Coach, a Developer, a Software Developer, a Software Engineer. On top of that, was I Junior, Mid, or Senior? It was all about titles, being a role or a position, becoming sterilized by a label. All of those titles are pretty much conversation stoppers:
“What do you do?”
“I’m a ______.”
Except maybe, Ski Racing Coach. Sometimes they asked what kind and I responded downhill. Then they said, “neat” instead of “OK”. End, dead, boring. The most exciting it gets is “I have an uncle, cousin, friend whatever who is one too.” Once again a conversation stopper. What is my old answer for what I do now? “I’m a coach and a software entrepreneur.” Entrepreneur is really a fun thing to say and often gets people talking, thinking and interacting and that is what we were designed for. We were designed for relationship. It is time to rebrand yourself to be more of a conversation builder instead of killer. Through conversation we build relationship. Through relationship, we grow, we bring others closer to Christ, and they grow.
So, How Do I Re-Brand Myself?
Take my new, almost boring title: “I’m a coach and a software entrepreneur.” and expand or even expound on that to include the people I serve and help. There is not one business going on in this world that isn’t about helping someone. There is not a dollar exchanged without some form of service being rendered. Who cares that I’m a coach? Oh, you must be all high and mighty that you can tell people what to do! That’s why it is a show stopper. What if I responded something like this:
“I help people with personal change, finances, and accountability”
Dang, did you see that? That list of people that formed in your head? Was your name on that list? That type of response automatically conjured up a list of people that could really use, in the listener’s opinion, “personal change, finances, and accountability.” That opens up the conversation. I hear things like, “I really need to learn to budget.” or “I have a friend at work who is trying to…” Two things are happening. First, the person I’m talking to is getting to know me a bit better. Second, I am seeing opportunities where I can use my gifts to serve and help others. Third, I’m inviting more discussion with the person I’m talking to that will help me get to know who they are. Wow, what an impact.
Take a look at what you call yourself to day, how you respond to “what do you do?” and decide if you can re-brand it to bring more and stronger connections into your life. Be like Lizzy and love yourself enough to toss out the titles and take on a role of humanity, be a person. Take off the mask and be who you choose to be. Make the new you invite people to participate in your life. Use a response that opens up your humility, your sensitivity, your openness to connect with people. Connecting with people is all there is. That is all that He wants, connecting with us while we connect with others.