We all have negative role models, people whose behavior we don’t want to emulate. Don’t just chalk it up to a bad experience. Use it to clarify who you want to be.
Into every entrepreneur’s life, a little rain must fall.
Some time ago, I was at a book signing. It was also attended by a former vendor for my business whose service I discontinued rather abruptly. Her dark stares from across the room were not pleasant to behold. Let’s just say that our relationship didn’t end happily.
I wish I could say that everyone is delighted to see me. I wish I could be all zen about it and say that it’s all good, it was meant to be. Truth be told, it bothered me. To have someone still harbor ill feelings after all these years feels not just unfair and inappropriate given the circumstances. It feels like she’s holding a grudge.
In the face of this bad behavior, what can I do?
I could rage about it. I could complain and tell all my friends and let them empathize with me. I could hold a grudge right back.
Or I can do something useful. Something that will bring some value to the experience.
True, I can choose to see her distance and stares as fear. Fear that I know something about her and her business that she doesn’t want others to know. And I can feel compassion for her fear.
But there’s even more I can do.
This dance is a two-stepper, so put on your dancing shoes.
First step: identify what you don’t like about the other person’s behavior.
That’s pretty easy. You’re usually clear about what bothers you. And you can vow not to do it yourself.
That part’s straightforward. It’s hard-wired into us to move away from what we see as negative.
The problem with leaving it at that is you’re left with a negative reaction, a focus on what you don’t want. It also leaves a lot of room, and lack of clarity, about what you dowant.
We’re each defined by our actions. Making a conscious choice about how you want to respond to a situation helps define, for yourself and for others, who you are.
Which brings us to Step #2: decide how you would like to see yourself respond in a similar situation.
This is the turnaround, and my challenge to you.
To bring a little voodoo, a little alchemy to this situation, you have the opportunity to really consider what your response would be. What are your values? How can they play out in this situation?
Your response is more obvious when it’s someone who’s in a similar line of work. But you’re not limited to those situations. Any interaction that doesn’t go as well as you’d like can be a way to really think about and feel your way through to being who you want to be in your actions.
Spoiler alert: this is not easy.
Tough as it is, though, it’s totally worth it. When I’ve been able to follow through on it, I’ve felt at peace with myself and the situation and been able to put it behind me. Just as importantly, when I enact what I believe to be most important, it feels expansive and energizing.
I wish I could say I do this every time, but I’m a work in progress. Just like my former vendor. But every time I do it, I get to be me, authentically grounded in my values and having the impact I want to have.
How about you? Want to turn these not-so-stellar moments in business into something you can be proud of? If I can do it, so can you.
We’ve all had negative role models, people whose behavior has served to help us clarify what we don’t want to do.
But… you’re bigger than your instinctive reactions. You’ve got a smart, active part of your brain that you can put to great use in this situation.
When you can take these experiences and turn them into a guiding light for what youdo want to do, then you’ve really transformed the moment.
We’re all a work in progress. Put all that hard work into something that will be valuable for you and for others.