I’ve come to realize that everyone in this world--regardless of how much money, power, or beauty they possess--have at least one thing they want to change about themselves. For example, some people are self-conscious about their height, weight, hair, clothes, education, accent, etc. If not put into check, the self-criticism can begin to consume our thoughts and hold us back. Little do we realize that the thing we want to change about ourselves is also the thing that makes us authentic and stand out from the crowd. Indeed, status quo tries its best to make us want to blend in, conform, and take away our individuality and uniqueness.
In my case, I was very self-conscious of my thick Southern accent. All it took was for me to say, “Hello” and people immediately knew where I was from. As I took on more national and global responsibility, I wanted to tone my accent down so people could better understand me. I took all kinds of classes to improve me diction but could never moderate the accent. My mental breakthrough came when I did my first town hall when I joined Medtronic. We had moved from Atlanta to their headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. After I finished speaking, everyone was congratulating and welcoming me. An older gentleman came up, shook my hand, and said, “That was the best town hall I have ever attended. I didn’t understand a damn word you said, but I really liked how authentic you are. I know you are going to shoot straight with us!” Wow! His comment made me realize that people follow you because of who you are, not because of perfect diction. We went on to do some great things.
What triggered me to choose this topic for today’s blog was my wife and I watched the original version of “The Wizard of Oz” over Thanksgiving Holiday. Dorothy and her three friends already had what they wanted the wizard to give them. The yellow brick road they were following led them to their mind and changed the way they thought of themselves. Whatever you are self-conscious about, take a timeout and follow your yellow brick road.