The last two years have been tumultuous, however it also provided many opportunities for personal growth. I’ve learned that in spite of my confidence, I still struggle with self-worth.
That awareness reminded me how easy it is to set aside our own needs for the sake of others, which over time, weakens boundaries and lessens the value we bring to relationships.
Recently, one of my clients sent me a video of a new Katy Perry song, Roar. The words and images lit a fire under me. (Note: Links to her videos are at the bottom of this blog post.)
Katy opens the song with:
“I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath…scared to rock the boat and make a mess..So, I sat quietly,…agreed politely…”
Boy, those words resonated!
In spite of my assertiveness today, I can easily slip into a passive mode and let others run over me, ultimately sacrificing my boundaries and worth.
As I reflected on how this has impacted our portfolio, I was reminded of my love for the color purple, and the symbolism it represents for me.
In 5th grade, my mom suggested painting my bedroom to make it into what she called ‘a Girls Room.’ It was rare that my parents would offer to do nurturing acts, so I immediately
accepted her offer with a big smile. “Great idea!” I said. Mind you the room was small, but I quickly imagined how much brighter this would make my stark living quarters.
She then asked what color I wanted the room, and explained that we could paint the walls and add frilly curtains. “Purple,” I said empathically. “That’s my favorite color.”
She gasped. “Purple? Why would you want that color? It’s so dark.” “No, purple is my color, Mom. I want my room purple.”
She tried to reason with me. “Honey, I think yellow is a better color for girls. It’s bright almost like sunshine. I think that’s a better color.” I pictured the room yellow. Yes, it
was bright, but I really liked purple. So I pressed, “Mom, I like purple. It feels good to me.”
She was quiet for a moment, and then tried to convince me she was right. When nothing worked, she resorted to anger and her dictatorial-parental voice. “Purple is a stupid color. Your room is going to be yellow. That’s a color for girls.”
Knowing I had reached an impasse, I did as I was told, accepted what was offered and set my own desires aside. “Ok, yellow it is.”
As the room was prepared I tried to get excited. It was clean, bright and new. It felt better than before. It was “good enough.” And I settled in, learning to accept what was given rather than ask for what I wanted.
I did as I was told, accepted what was offered and set my own desires aside. It was "good enough."
In high school my boyfriend asked me to his senior prom. He asked me what color dress I would wear, and I said, “Purple, that’s my favorite color.”
He said, “Purple? You would stand out too much. Most girls wear colors like, white or light blue. Wouldn’t that be better?” “No, I think purple would be beautiful on me. It would highlight my dark hair and tan.” I argued.
“Well, my tux would never go with that. I think you need to find either a white or a blue dress. That will match my tux.” And, once again, I complied.
I was taught to accept what was offered, and learned how to be satisfied with what I was given.
In spite of my courage, determination and strong will, the world around me repeatedly told me to accept less than what I wanted. And, so I lowered my expectations.
Fortunately, in areas such as college and career, I didn’t comply and instead followed my own path. Yet oddly, in the areas that really mattered to my spirit, areas of true meaning, I
settled for what the outer world said was acceptable.
This pattern repeated itself in 2003 as I molded my first business into an “consulting" company, rather than the training and transformation brand I originally built. I justified this move with the excuse that I “could earn more in consulting” regardless of the fact that my soul really wanted to do training and transformation work.
To further illustrate the battle with just being myself, we rebranded the consulting company, changing the name and identity. We used a design firm to create a memorable brand for the new name, LATIMARK, because that sounded more like a consulting company.
When the creative team gathered for the initial discovery session, the topic of color quickly came up.
“What are your favorite colors?” The Creative Director asked. “I like all colors. Except yellow, I hate yellow.” I said flatly.
The room laughed. “That’s funny. Yellow is a horrible color for a consulting business. What colors do you really like?” He said again. I hesitated. “We’ll, I like blue…and purple. I like
purple a lot.” I shot a glance around the room, only to see the creative team squirm. ”Yeah, uh…purple isn’t a great color for business. Blue might work. Let us come up with a few options for you.”
As the LATIMARK brand logo and identity were completed, the colors selected were maroon and cream because “it was an acceptable color combination for a consulting company.” Once again I complied. As a CEO in my company, I conceded to what other people said was acceptable.
Interestingly enough: Despite the outward success of LATIMARK, I ultimately created a company that made me miserable.
I was miserable, despite financial success, because like the brand’s color, the entire business was based on what I thought would bring success, and on what others thought was important, rather than what I really craved.
What I truly craved was work (and a color palette) that inspired passion and creativity.
So, what’s the lesson?
Be who you are. Do what feels right. Let your own sense of self-worth, as well as your own set of values, and your own inner compass guide your choices and decisions. Be a champion. Be YOUrself!
Katy Perry’s Roar (The first is her official lyric song, and the second is from the MTV awards.)
Roar lyrics by Katy Perry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9SeJIgWRPk
Roar by Katy Perry at MTV Music Awards: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHFp_r02zzY