Category Archives: Leadership

Are you confident your legacy will count?

 

When I gave presentations on professional presence as an image consultant, I often referenced  research conducted by sociolinguist Albert Mehrabian, who found that 55% of our first impressions are based on how a person looks, 38% is based on how they communicate and just 7% is based on what they actually say. This was my “aha’ slide, the slide that made everything else in my presentation on image and professionalism relevant. The “just 7%” was justification for focusing on the visuals over the verbal.

But even back then, I always had tremendous respect for the veracity of voice, the power of the pen, and how our words wield our truth.  Way before I became interested in style and image, I was a truth seeker. I believe we all are to some extent. What I believe is true, is what I value. What I value is what I focus on. What I focus on is what I speak into existence. What I speak into existence by a tweet, talk, or post, is my voice—it is my opinion, expression, or the truth as I see it. My voice leaves an indelible print of my time here on earth.

Mahatma Gandhi advocated for unabashedly speaking ones truth when he said, “Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”  Your truth is reflected in your voice. In this era of social media communications, your voice leaves a lasting legacy of your thoughts, beliefs, priorities and perspectives. So, what type of legacy are you leaving with your voice?

This is no inconsequential matter. Our current President uses his voice in a very public platform to express his mostly personal views. Every tweet he sends, whether you agree with his opinions or not, communicate so much about his character. He may say one thing using a teleprompter, but I believe the real man can be discovered in the one place where he can express himself unfiltered, where his voice is truly his own. Like him or not, on Twitter, you get the real deal.

Our words have tremendous power, and to cast them around carelessly is foolish, especially in a medium where they can be shared, copied and attributed to you till kingdom come.

In the past three months, we have witnessed unprecedented tragedy in the world, from natural disasters and sadly, just this week in Las Vegas, from human hands. Every day we seem perched on the brink of war between North Korea and the US with tensions mounting between these two world leaders. In times like these just how do we use our voice?

When disaster strikes, like it has around the world lately, I find my voice escapes me. As a writer and truth seeker, I feel so trapped by all the many words in me fighting for air time, that none wins. And instead, just silence. Words of comfort seem insufficient. I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling. But I have to fight to find my voice and speak up for my truth, within the context of all the events happening around me. Scripture speaks often of using our words to uplift and encourage each other.  For example, First Thessalonians 5:11 says: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” It is this belief that motivated me to write an inspirational post on cultivating resilience,  two weeks ago.

Just consider the greatest leaders, orators and champions in our modern world –John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Theodore Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi–whose words continue to surface decades after they have passed on. Their words leave a lasting legacy unfettered by time and often context. Their voices offer hope, guidance, encouragement, purpose and motivation. But moreover, their words were in sync with their characters, deeply enmeshed with their value systems. JFK said it best when he wrote: As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

It is interesting to me that after the horrific massacre in Las Vegas this week, in the President’s address to the nation,  he referenced scripture and God multiple times to comfort, console and speak up for unity in the United States. He referenced Psalm 34:18 when he said, “Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.” He ends his speech with these words: “May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost, may God give us the grace of healing, and may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.” I applaud him for taking himself out of the equation, following his script and calling on the wisdom of a higher power to try to find words to comfort us. But if I’m honest, his words did not ring true for me. I do not see this President as a religious man in word, action or deed. The words he read are not words he lives by.

Here is an important point about our voice: it has to be authentic. It has to reflect who we are and what we value. Otherwise it can seem hollow, stiff or rehearsed, as the President looked and sounded during his speech on October 2nd. As a reporter for the Atlantic said of his speech, he “would have done better to say a few things that sound real than a great many that sound false.”  Time and time again we witness this President using his voice in a divisive, critical, aggrandizing and equivocating way. He vacillates so much that it is difficult to trust anything he says. How sad. How unfortunate that the voice for this great nation may be failing its people.

I admire the account of King Edward VI’s journey to finding his voice in the movie, “The King’s Speech”.  Here was a leader who struggled with a debilitating stammer, who fought to find a way to communicate to his people with confidence, command and clarity, at a critical juncture in history. The heart of the movie is the unbreakable bond that develops between the aspiring King and his speech therapist, Logue. We see how much is at stake. The only way to communicate in real time with the public in those days was via live radio where voice reigns supreme. The climax of the movie is the new King delivering his first wartime radio broadcast where he announced Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939, without a hitch. The king’s speech inspired the country and united them in battle while giving the new monarch the confidence he needed to be King. What a legacy!

Most of us will never be a king or a president of a country, but we all have a platform for our voice when we communicate. On social media we have virtual followers and online friends. Some of us are influencers. We may be leaders in business or our community. We may pontificate from a pulpit or coach in a classroom. It matters not. But make no mistake, your words leave a lasting legacy within your sphere of influence and this should give you pause before you speak, tweet, post or share.  Your words can uplift, edify, elevate or enlighten. Or they can dis-empower, tear down, vilify and condemn.  Your words can spread joy or pain, love or hate.

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Theodore Roosevelt’s quote about the “man in the arena”  is now even more famous because it is where researcher turned author and influencer, Brene Brown, derived the title of her bestselling book, “Daring Greatly”.  This is the power of voice! Truth begets even more truth and from Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy we have a book that leaves a legacy that urges us all to let go of our facades and show our vulnerabilities because therein lies our strength and courage. We need that message more than ever today.

In these precarious times, will you join me in committing to getting in the arena, letting our voices be heard, living authentically from our truth, using our words for good,  so hopefully, prayerfully, we can leave a legacy worthy of our time spent on earth? We’ve sure got our work cut out for us!


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

Humility: The Hallmark of Great Leadership

 

I recently responded to an article on LinkedIn where the writer set out to prove why being humble is a bad thing. He basically asserted that humility fosters blending in, not speaking up for oneself, and letting others (who are braggarts) get ahead because you don’t toot your own horn. I appreciated the perspective and subject matter but disagreed, so I was inspired to write my own post on this topic. Having had a feast eating “humble pie” in the past few years, I have a newfound respect for humility and what it stands for.

I can think of quite a few leaders from the past and present who I consider to be successful, stellar, one of a kind, movers and shakers by any account, who are also humble. From my perspective, humility has nothing to do with letting others run circles around you. Looking at the root of the word, humility comes from the word hummus, meaning the earth or the ground. Humility then has as its essence, groundedness, steadfastness, and standing firm on one’s beliefs and values. A humble person does not compare themselves with others as they know that they are no better or worse off than anyone else. Being humble means having a realistic sense of one’s position with God and to other people. Humility levels the playing field. It embodies the traits of honesty, authenticity, trust, acceptance, unity, kindness, expansiveness and generosity.

I believe very strongly in personal branding and one of its tenets is the principle that we all have gifts that we are uniquely qualified to offer to the world, based on our experiences, talents, beliefs, values, personality, etc. As Marianne Williamson says in her famous quote from her book Return to Love‘, “We are all meant to shine…we are all born to make manifest the glory of God within us”. If you believe this, then you cannot believe in the scarcity model that suggests that only some of us get to be successful, brilliant, or stellar. The author of the article that inspired this post, shares stats on the number of people in the world, on social media and possessing college degrees in the US to offer a view that there is just too much competition for brilliance. Therefore, the only way for a person to succeed, to carve out a special niche or platform for themselves is by taking full advantage of their bragging rights. If they don’t do it, someone just as qualified will take their place as “nature abhors a vacuum”. I respectfully disagree.

You have unique gifts to manifest to the world—God given gifts. Humility is graciously receiving these gifts and sharing them with others to bless them and glorify God. You don’t need to scramble like a crab in a barrel to get others to notice you. If your light is shining truly, others will see it and you will influence those in your sphere. Though the greedy and the proud will have you think otherwise, your light, your unique brilliance, is unstoppable. Because it is your stamp, the efficacy of your personal brand. It is the core of who you are as a leader.

When I think of stellar leaders in my lifetime, who possess humility at their core, the icons that come readily to mind are Princess Diana, The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

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Princess Diana was the poster child of gracious humility. A princess, beloved by the world, as beautiful on the outside as the inside, who with heart and humanity used her influence to help the needy, the marginalized and the outcast. Her many charitable endeavors are well documented. Watching her being interviewed on TV, what you observe is not a woman full of herself and her accomplishments, but one who even in her gentleness and meekness, demonstrates her commitment and passion for her causes with grace, dignity and humility. In every single year since the anniversary of her death 20 years ago this year, she is celebrated and mourned all over the world. Why? Because she let her actions speak for themselves. She let her true light shine on its own merit, and we all witnessed her authenticity and the fruit of her passions.

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The Dalai Lama is a study in tranquility, presence, open-hearted service and humility. Whenever he has a speaking engagement, anywhere in the world, people of all faiths throng to hear him. Why? Could it be because there is an allure there, an attraction which has nothing to do with wealth, perceived success, prestige or status? Could that attraction be the very humility and self-sacrifice so many of us shy away from? We are captivated by the Dalai Lama in some part because what he stands for runs so counter to the values we hold dear in this society. Simplicity, non-attachment, non-judgement are characteristics so foreign to the average person that a persona like the Dalai Lama stands out distinctly from the pack.

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You may not agree with Barack Obama’s politics while he was President, but you have to admit he possessed a calm, dignified and resolute presence which for a U.S. President, was refreshing to many Americans. He came into his Presidency ringing the bells of change, hopefulness (“yes we can”), unity, and inclusiveness. After 8 years in the Whitehouse, he left sans scandal and controversy with his morals and values intact. I see so much humility in President Obama. He had a lot to brag about as the first African-American President in US history, one of the youngest elected Presidents in recent memory, and as a President who in spite of a Republican controlled Congress, got Obamacare and other major legislation enacted in his tenure. Yet what will go down in history is not a President that tooted his own horn, but one that listened, extended grace to allies and foes, and who tried to act fairly in his dealings, all why staying true to the man he was. Authenticity, poise, equanimity and kindness are some of his hallmarks—all key aspects of humility.

 

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Martin Luther King Jr’s whole platform centered around non-violence and using the power of love to conquer hate. He rallied for justice and equality for African-Americans and advocated for peace and unity instead of resistance. What a concept! It was hardly revolutionary, but it seemed crazy against the backdrop of the violent and contentious civil rights movement in the 1960’s. His opponents mocked him for what they deemed as weakness. He didn’t go around thumping his chest trying to be noticed. Yet he built a movement so pivotal that it impacted the course of U.S. history. He advocated unrelentingly for civil rights in the face of fierce opposition and used his platform to “keep hope alive” when it seemed that equal rights for all citizens was just a fantasy. His beliefs eventually led to his assassination at the age of 39. Martin Luther King Jr’s was a visionary. He was courageous. And he was humble.

MLK’s story reminds me of a famous Jew that preceded him centuries earlier. Jesus of Nazareth spoke The Truth, knowing it would lead to his death. He confronted his accusers boldly and publicly shamed the Jewish leaders of his time for their hypocrisy. He was the God/man come to the earth in the most humbling of circumstances (born in a horse’s trough in a stable) and lived without wealth or earthly pedigree. He didn’t brag about himself but he did brag about his father, the God of the Universe. Jesus spoke favorably of the meek and the humble, and went so far as to say they would “inherit the earth”. The character trait of humility was one Jesus endorsed, exemplified, and encouraged. According to Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

As a Christian, who has a newfound respect for humility, a recurring prayer of mine is to learn to embrace humility and to know that in my humility I gain so much more strength to do the will of God. In my humility, I am transformed more into the likeness of Jesus. Hallelujah!

You don’t have to be a braggart, prideful, arrogant or self-seeking to get noticed for what only you can do best. You— with your unique talents, experiences, personality, values, strengths and bravado— are needed. Your niche is already carved out waiting for you to show up and manifest your brilliance. They are waiting on you to shine.


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide :Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.  Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.