One of my bosses at Martha Stewart told me that I was too direct.
She shared that my directness was holding me back from career success. That I put people off. I was harsh.
I can’t remember exactly what she said or how much I’m embellishing, because, whatever she said, the mark it left was a deep and lasting scar.
At that moment, I shrunk myself to make others see me differently. I carried the perceived penalty of directness with me as I became cautious and scripted. I was less effective in my new shrunked-ness. I led with thoughts that I should be someone else.
To those who are labeled:
Aggressive. Keep being assertive as it's a sign of confidence.
Bossy. Keep leading. The world needs change agents more than ever.
Difficult. Stand your ground in your truth.
Too Much. Find the tribe who celebrates you.
Awkward. Believe in your uniqueness. No one is quite like you.
Direct. Stay authentic and transparent. People will always know where they stand with you.
One more thing….When dismissed, make your voice louder. What you have to say is not only important it may just be what we need to hear.
Most importantly. Be yourself. You are beautiful just the way you are.
My directness is a point of difference now. It's now my signature. I’m careful to use my directness positively, not punitively. When I'm direct, people know I care deeply.
I will no longer be minimized by words of someone who could have shared with me the benefits of my directness. What a learning moment it could have been to help me see how I could leverage my directness to lead with even more brilliance.
I talked about how direct is kind in this episode of the Kindness Think Tank. One listener commented that is was one of the best leadership podcasts she had listened to.
Here's to all of us bossy, difficult, loud, direct bad asses.