My autistic son walked into my office this morning with a clear container of cereal.
“Are you as colorful as this thing of Froot Loops?” And he walked out.
Autistic children see the world differently and process information in a way most “normal people” can’t comprehend, but his question struck a chord.
Are we colorful?
Early in my career I was taught “Be interested, not interesting.” By the same people that insisted on recruiting cookie cutter college athletes from the same schools, same majors, have everyone wear a blue suit and white shirt, and run assembly line training to produce predictable white bread results. Rarely anything colorful or spectacular.
Yes, being interested in your client is critical, and it is about them, not you. But be you, be human.
Wear the funky socks.
Talk about your unusual hobbies like curling.
Ask that unusual question like “What would others call weird that’s totally normal to you?”
When I didn’t care about trying to fit into the image of what I was “supposed to be”, but was ME, I produced at my highest levels.
Being the best version of “you” is better than being a poor clone of someone else, even a top producer. Yes, take aspects of those people who do things you admire and integrate them into you, but don’t subsume who you are to attempt to be someone completely different because you will be out of alignment and ultimately less successful.
The best speaking advice I got was from a buddy when I was co-headlining a NAIFA event with the great Tom Hegna. My buddy reminded me before I went on stage “Remember, you aren’t Tom Hegna. You’re not Van Meuller. You’re you. Be you.” And I rocked it.
Trust is partially based upon transparency, and letting your light shine with its own natural colors. Show your flaws instead of hiding them or trying to cover them up.
Admit that you love Harry Potter and had a crush on Severus Snape.
That yes, you eat Fluffernutter sandwiches for breakfast.
That you build Legos with your nieces and nephews and love it.
Differences sell, not similarities. Be the synchopated, slightly discordant rhythm that your clients remember like Moreta’s Song on Pern or Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World:
Be the best you you can be. Train your skills yes. Learn from those who are better than you. Adopt ideas and best practices from others. But don’t become fifty shades of boring. Be bright to be successful.