June 8, 2017

Taking On The World With Your Abilities - Embracing Your Inner Bada$$

Whether we attempt to cultivate one or not, we all have a personal brand. Perhaps you spend careful time and attention crafting the perception you project to the world. Maybe you operate on the opposite extreme and don’t spend time considering it at all; you just live your life authentically, and try to let your work speak for itself. My approach tends to lean toward the  latter scenario.

Somewhere along the line, “bada$$” started being thrown around as a way of describing me.  I was not flattered. For me, it sounds like the description of someone who is trying really hard to be cool. When my younger daughter described me this way in a recent school paper, I paused to investigate primarily why SHE had this perception of me. She explained that she saw me as someone who wasn’t afraid to go after trying to live the life I wanted to live...and that I was trying to raise her to do the same. I have to admit, I was thrilled that is how she perceives me. That characterization is far more appealing to me than my original view on the term. So rather than be insulted, I’ve decided to celebrate this element of my approach to life and have spent a little time thinking about that why this might be the case. Interested in tapping into this side of you?  Here’s a mindset you might want to ponder.

I can’t tell you the number of people I have come across during my lifetime who have taken jobs or pursued certain things like getting married or having children because they believe that is what is expected of them. If you aren’t passionate, or at least really engaged, on those big things in your life, the likelihood that you’ll optimize and thrive in that experience is moderate at best.  

Regardless of what you decide to take on, commit to making it as interesting as possible for yourself.  Never lose a sense of curiosity  and learning. We only have a certain number of hours in each day; investing in something that fulfills you and keeps you interested, and interesting, is one of the best investments you can ever make.  

Bada$$ Question to Ask Yourself:  “When was the last time you took the time to learn something new just because you found it interesting?” If it’s been too long, challenge yourself to book time to do something you can learn/grow from within the next week.  

When I was in middle school, I used to call my girlfriends the night before school so we could plan out identical outfits to wear. For some reason at that point in our lives, it was so important to fit in, and ultimately give no one ammunition to judge you as “different.” Until one day in  eighth grade when I showed up  with the Rolling Stone’s new album Tattoo You. I LOVED that album.  My friends told me it was stupid.  In that moment, I decided I no longer cared what my friend’s thought. As a result, I have developed an authentic voice. I do my best to marry a direct answer with compassion and humor. It’s not easy; but I go to bed peacefully at night knowing I am being straight with the people I interact with. And they have come to know I do so with the best possible intention.

This is a tough place for many of us to get to in life, but once you embrace it, it’s a game changer. Here’s the deal: people have opinions. They always will. When we edit our behavior or actions for fear of being judged, we limit ourselves tremendously.   

Bada$$ Question to Ask Yourself:  “Do I want to be a person who holds off on pursuing something important to me for fear of being judged...or do I want to be a person who goes after the life I truly want to achieve?” Depending on your answer, make adjustments or be prepared to live with the hand you’re dealt in life.  

Who do you surround yourself with, both in work and in life? Having  built a career in startups, I tend to spend most of my days with high energy, optimistic people who are just slightly insane enough to believe anything is possible. I have learned over the years that I’m attracted to those sort of people in my personal life as well. While I do believe I can enjoy the company of a wide variety of people, I find my general demeanor is far more positive when I forego time spent with people who don’t inspire me in this way.  

Bada$$ Question to Ask Yourself:  “Are the people in my life energy givers or takers?” If the takers are the predominant population, reassess how you spend your time and engage with them.  

Many of us fall into the rut of operating in our “comfort zone.” Get past it. Yes, new things and change can be scary. However, nothing amazing will happen in your life unless you embrace the notion that you’ll have to work through a little bit of fear to achieve it.  Instead of letting that fear prevent you from doing what you want to do, let it fuel you. You know that adrenaline rush you feel when you go on a ride at an amusement park? It’s exhilarating right? Your everyday life can feel exciting like that if you embrace pushing outside of your comfort zone.

Bada$$ Question to Ask Yourself:   “When was the last time I did something out of my comfort zone?”  If it was successful, use this momentum to tackle something else.  If you had a less than stellar outcome, don’t be discouraged; just ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?” and take another attempt.  Not as scary when you can plan around worst case scenarios.

Sometimes vocalizing what we are going to do is a smart approach to fueling our success.  If I am going to publicly announce some big change in the company, it’s vital to share the vision and let people know what to expect if I want them to buy in to.  However, to maintain any sort of credibility, I’ve got to back it up with action.  People don’t want to hear about all of your big dreams and then never see it come to fruition; they want to see action.  And while some among us are guilty of saying “yes” to nearly everything asked of us, those people typically never get it all done, or done well,  when they are spread too thin. Outline your critical goals, and then commit to taking action. Involve others as appropriate, and engage as necessary. In the meantime, promise yourself you will be someone who celebrates your “big actions” after you’ve accomplished  them; not the other way around.

Bada$$ Question to Ask Yourself:  “What were the last three things I announced I was going to do?  Did I accomplish them?” If so, good for you. If not, you might want to rethink your strategy for sharing your big goals if you aren’t confident you can achieve them.  

We all have a notion of what it means to be a bada$$. For me, it’s not about attempting to be cool or tough; it’s about going out into the world and tackling it to the best of your abilities. To be both authentic and compassionate; bold and inclusive.  At the end of  the day, we’ve got one life.  

Ending bada$$ question to ask do I ultimately want to live my life? Am I living it to the best of my ability?”  If not, ask yourself some tough questions...and then be willing make the changes to make that happen. Do so, and my daughter might just think you are a bada$$ too.

Christina Luconi is Chief People Officer for Rapid7. Follow her on Twitter: @peopleinnovator.