When you meet someone new or go to a meeting or attend a class or workshop, how do you introduce yourself? Do you start with your degrees (i.e., letters behind your name), where you work, the school you went to? None of that is ‘wrong’ to say. In fact, many of us have been trained to use those as our only introduction. But when you stop and think about it, what do you really learn about a person?
I have degrees that I worked hard to achieve and I’m proud of my company and where I went to school; however, that only skims the surface of who I am as an individual.
I am privileged of teaching at Simmons College in their MBA program and the first class of the Spring semester was last week. It is a brand new group of students for me so I feel it’s important to share who I am and for me to learn about who they are. The picture above is what I used to talk about who I am. I’m a proud mama of 2 beautiful and great spirited boys, married to my soul mate (will be 15 years in May!). And instead of saying what I believe in, I chose some of my favorite sayings. My students’ reactions were interesting because at first they seemed a bit perplexed and not sure what to do with the information. Then they seemed to relax a bit more in their seats and smiled as they actually looked at the pictures and read the quotes. You see, I wanted to foster the beginnings of a relationship with them – and in order to do that, I needed to share some of myself with them.
Now, everyone may not have an opportunity to share slides with a new person they meet – but we can all choose the words we use to describe ourselves. And I have found that too often people use their degrees or universities to try and impress others. People seem to either not think about or shy away from sharing pieces of themselves, who they are as a person.
Imagine if the next time you met someone new and they asked the proverbial question: ‘What do you do?’ that instead of telling them your job title or where you worked, you responded:
- I have a day job so I can ____ (ski, hike, dance – whatever your hobby or pleasure is)
- I devote time to helping people shatter their self-imposed glass ceilings while raising their floors (my personal vision)
- I work with kids to help them learn and become great members of our community (what my sons’ teachers say and some other friends who work at home with their children)
Granted, these are just examples but you get the picture. While our jobs, titles, organizations and schools are a part of us, they are not the only part. Why do we shortchange ourselves?