A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the upper lobby of the Marriott in Kansas City with Stadia’s marketing and events team. We’d been meeting for several hours the night before and that morning preparing for the future, evaluating the past and figuring out ways to be better. We had just returned from lunch and weren’t quite ready yet to dive back into work talk. Plus, my boss, the inimitable Tom Jones (not the singer) stopped by to have a chat with us and encourage my team (and me).
My colleague Phyllis proposed we all answer a question she uses whenever she is conducting a job interview. The New York Times is printing a full-page advertisement for you, but it can only have three words on it. What three words would you want on the advertisement to describe you so that the Times’ readers would know what kind of person you are.
Everyone in the circle had to answer, including Tom. It was awesome. It really gave a killer picture of how each of us saw ourselves and perhaps more importantly how we want to be seen by others. I’ll let you ask Tom, Phyllis, Janie and Abby about their three words on your own, but I’ll share mine here.
Hospitable: I feel like I am and I want to be known as the person at the party that is having fun but more importantly making sure everyone is having fun; even that new guy your other buddy just met and randomly invited. I want to be the person that makes sure everyone who has something to say at a meeting, small group, whatever, has the opportunity to say it. I want to make sure everyone is engaged. Sometimes that means making the comfortable, but in some situations, it means making them uncomfortable.
Driven: I think if you know me, this one is evident. I feel like I am and I want to be known as someone who theorizes, perseveres and accomplishes.
Agile: I want to be known for my ability to change course when I need to. When I worked for Siemens, I was on a small, very agile team in a humungous, not very agile organization. It was awesome. When I had to be in Malvern or Princeton and endure the corporate bureaucracy, I felt like I was drowning. I champion not falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy and am ready to move in order to accomplis
h the things I’m driven toward through my work, my ministry or my own ideas.
Flip the script and the three words I would not want to be known as are Disloyal, Unprincipled and Boring.
I strongly encourage you to go through this exercise with your friends, family and coworkers. Knowing how others want to be seen helps you see them that way, and when you see them the way they want to be seen, you develop a new found respect and/or love for them. You also are more equipped to help them, lead them, love them, be led by them, be in relationship with them.
So, now you know my three. What are yours?