If you want to be understood, give an understandable message
Whether it’s your spouse, your child, an employee, colleague, neighbor, or anyone else in your life, in order to have good relationships (or at the very least, civil), you have to clearly communicate and sincerely listen. It sounds pretty simple, but as evidenced by the discord and lack of civility in our world, it’s not.
After 26 years of marriage, my husband recently said, “I don’t know what you’re doing. I’m not even sure I know you anymore.” I sat stunned for a moment before replying in frustration, “are you kidding me right now?!” We both work from home, he hears my side of every phone call, he is often given drafts of my writing for review before submission, he has been in the studio with me many times for TV segments and radio shows, and this man has heard me give hundreds of speeches. I thought that if he doesn’t know me by now, I wonder if there’s anyone who really “gets me” and what I’m doing and what I stand for.
In the days following that exchange, I began to see that I had been running 100 mph toward fulfillment of what I believe to be my life’s purpose without effectively communicating to anyone what I was doing and where I was going—literally and figuratively. I mistakenly assumed they they just knew. My daughter and her family had no idea about the big, audacious dreams of my heart or the subject of my most recently published articles. Some of my closest friends would ask me what I was up to, and be surprised to hear about the projects that were the subject of my greatest passion. It’s not because they didn’t care. It’s because I had failed to communicate. Somewhere along the fast lane of my life, I had forgotten what used to be one of my core mantras as a business owner. For years I drilled into my employees that fact that our clients would never know the value of the service we provided for them what unless we clearly and effectively communicated it to them. Whoops.
As I thought about how to communicate to those closest to me what I was all about at this stage of my life, I began to see that everyone doesn’t see what I see. Consequently, everyone doesn’t draw the same conclusions that I draw. So what I thought was obvious to everyone close to me, was not. It’s not as though I think I’ve somehow been entrusted with the answers to the mysteries of the universe. But I do believe that I’ve been entrusted with a unique message that has been formed as a result of my life experiences, my strengths, talents, abilities, and the filter of perspective through which I see life, all of which is uniquely mine. I realized that in all the years that I sat in on meetings about child welfare, failing to speak up because I thought that my comments were surely obvious to everyone, I had missed opportunities to give a perspective that could be of value to others. My errant belief that the other participants would think I was a dunce for wasting everyone’s precious time by mentioning what they already all knew, was a misperception that may represent missed opportunities for powerful collaborations. I’ll never know what could have happened, but I do know that I’m not going to miss future opportunities to do good in the world because of fear of sharing my perspective.
Once I realized that my perspective was unique and of value, and wasn’t necessarily common knowledge to all the “smart people” in the world, it hit me like a ton of bricks that everyone has a valuable perspective, but that many are not clearly communicating it to others, and most are not listening to the unique perspective of others, especially when the perspective of the other appears to be counter to their ideology. I knew then that I had to help other people find and clearly communicate the unique message that had been entrusted to each of them. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that a unique message has been entrusted to each of us, and it’s incumbent upon us to get that message out into the world.
In the months since that first comment from my husband, I’ve uncovered my unique message, and I’m committed to continuously honing and improving my message so that I can communicate it to anyone in a clear, concise way in 30 seconds or less. I created a little book to present to my husband and daughter and her family that communicates clearly and in detail the big, audacious dreams of my heart and what I am doing to make those dreams a reality. And I wrote a program that I now facilitate in private events called YOUR MESSAGE, YOUR BRAND, and YOUR BOOK, which is part of the 9-module curriculum YOUR REAL SUCCESS, in which I help participants uncover the unique messages entrusted to them, help them create brands around their messages, and help them get their messages out into the world through books, articles, media, and social networking.
Not surprisingly, I’ve found that when you clearly communicate your message, other people better understand you and what you’re all about—what you stand for. People who have a similar message want to align themselves with you and your message, which strengthens both messages. Conversely, people who don’t agree may distance themselves, which is okay. Their message is their message, and not getting entangled in something that isn’t aligned with your unique purpose saves time and potential heartache for everyone involved. You see, our only responsibility is communicating our message, not in persuading everyone to agree with our message. The best part is that when those people who are closest to you gain a clear understanding of your unique message, they inherently gain a better understanding of you, which can result in deeper, more meaningful relationships. And good relationships are the #1 item on the list of all five facets of success, followed by good health, peace, joy, and financial provision.
So, in case you’re wondering, the unique message entrusted to me is this: “Everyone can create personal and professional success, not just despite what they’ve been through or are going through now, but specifically because of it. I am committed to spending every moment of the rest of my life to helping others mine the lessons, character traits, and healthy coping mechanisms out of what they’ve been through and to using those assets to find and fulfill the good plans for their lives and to thereby enjoy their REAL SUCCESS.”
There it is in 25.3 seconds.
What’s YOUR UNIQUE MESSAGE?