What?s your ?thing??

And is it elevating you or is it career limiting?

We all have that ?thing? we do – a ritual, a habit or something we say. Sometimes our ?thing? becomes a signature or an icon, like tennis player Lleyton Hewitt and his ?come on..? ritual or rugby player Jonny Wilkinson who clasps his hands as part of a kicking routine. The Guardian highlighted how powerful Jonny?s ?thing? was when it became, not only the defining image of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, but also a ?symbol for the nations [England] yearning for sporting glory?. ?Pretty impressive right!

The challenge arises when we?re not aware of our ?thing? and it becomes annoying, inappropriate or uncomfortable for others?and be potentially career limiting.

Let me give you an example?I have a relative, Joan, who provides me with wonderful advice and feedback about my leadership programs. In general, when she speaks she is passionate and engaging. Her voice is powerful and she is completely committed to the conversation. She is an amazing source of knowledge and I consider her a critical sounding board in my practice?but?Joan does this ?thing? that?s really frustrating.

If the topic of conversation makes her feel uncomfortable she invokes an avoidance strategy or a ?thing? that goes a little like this?

Like a lion she rolls her head back and let?s out a ?king of the jungle? style yawn?

She talks through the yawn in a tired voice?

She avoids eye contact?

She changes the subject, to how tired she is, as soon as possible?

And, the longer the conversation goes on the more she will yawn with disinterest.

When I leave these ?tired lion? conversations I feel demotivated and wonder what I might have done wrong to cause such an awkward response. For less reflective people, this ?thing? might be seen as rude or inconsiderate and be damaging Joan?s brand.

What?s interesting is that, up until recently, Joan didn?t even know she did this ?thing?. When I mentioned it to her she gave a nervous giggle, said ?do I really do that?? and then reflected on how others might feel following these conversations. It was only once she was aware of the ?thing? that she could do something about it!

For those who don?t know their ?thing? here?s a few ways to identify it:

  • Video yourself having a conversation with someone and then watch it
  • Ask a close friend to observe you and give feedback
  • Ask your manager for their feedback
  • Invest in a coach
  • Read this article
  • Watch this YouTube clip

You don?t need to change who you are, just be aware of how you are perceived by others and make some tweaks to elevate yourself.

If you?d like to know more about my??Creating Empowered Thinking??program please drop me?an email shelley@shelleyflett.com.

?Rather that being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them? Eckhart Tolle

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