Someone Is Always Watching or Listening, So Make Your Message Clear

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Nov 3, 2014

Do I know you?

Someone commented on a picture that I posted on Facebook, saying to me that  “you look more and more like your daddy.”

When the person responded to that question, I was in for the surprise of my life. The woman grew up a few blocks from me, and yes, our families knew each other.

However, she proceeded to tell me a story of how she idolized my brother, who was a saxophone player. She is now a doctorate in music and known the world over for her music prowess.

Refocused and reinvigorated

She told me that from the 4th grade on she would just marvel at my brother’s ability to play the instrument. I was incredulous.  How did that made such a formidable impression on her to the point that it caused her life’s calling? She said she knew then what her career trajectory would be. Talk about a life’s calling!

My friend Laurie Ruettimann (another TLNT contributor) has a “habit” of calling me out from time to time when she speaks at conferences. What she does not realize is how many people connect with me based on hearing her speak. She has, in a sense, liberated them from their job and they can now envision how it could be.

I remember one request that stood out of all the rest. Someone said:

I was thinking about just giving up on a career in HR until I heard her speak and it reinvigorated me to refocus and maybe change jobs. I knew there was more to just what I am doing. I thank her so much because she had no idea of how I needed to hear that.”

He probably did not mention that to her directly, but it came through loud and clear to me.

Someone is always watching

Last week was the HR Summit and Expo in Dubai. It is the largest HR conference in the Middle East. As one of the keynote speakers, I was approached at the end of my talk by a young woman who thanked me for saying the things I did. She too said she knew there was more. She said she is not going to give up and thanked me for my inspiration.

She works in a company where the CEO is an “old style leader.” That alone says it all.

“A breath of fresh air” was how someone mentioned a recent speech by Tim Sackett (another TLNT contributor). I may be 7,000 miles away, but surprisingly, I get a run down from every U.S. conference on HR or talent management, sometimes in real time.

After my Facebook conversation the other night, I thought of how this triangle of incidents cemented my thinking in how someone is always watching.

We are, in a lot of cases, mentoring without the relationship. People listen, read and hear of things that are being discussed, and it strikes a chord. I’m sure that this is not only an HR vantage point, but something that is going on throughout the world of work.

Whether you are an “influencer,” speaker, leader or just a plain old person who goes about doing your job every day, there is someone out there who has their eyes on you.

What you do, and say, matters

I receive a slew of emails that back up this hypothesis. Yes, what you do and say DOES matter. As the demographics of the workforce change, new people are coming into our professions and sometime look to bloggers, writers and speakers as their North Star. This is why it is so important to give back to our profession, mentor, and help in any way that we can.

I’m thrilled when I read about conferences where the scheduled speakers who are all friends because they are out there telling their side. Their side may not be the organization’s side or the HR side, but they are giving you their take. And the reason they are on the speaking circuit is because they give you an unvarnished opinion of their view.

Attendees at these events come away reinvigorated, recharged and ready for battle. However, this does not all stop at the conference podium, because in our private lives away from the microphone, our words and action still carry through.

For someone in the 4th grade to be influenced by my brother, and to know that he was a catalyst in guiding someone towards their mission in life, is unbelievable. We have no idea how the way we position and carry ourselves has meaning to others, not only in our circles, but outside them as well.

The tree and the shadow

It had been said that the definition of character is what we do when no one is watching. Another way  to say it is that even when we are in off mode, we should always be mindful that our message permeates our surroundings. The trick is to make sure that this message is truly what you are about.

It was Abe Lincoln who said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

I love this quote because it means that a person’s character defines them, but a person’s reputation is not always reflective of that person’s character. This proverbial shadow does not represent the reality, however so many times we get caught up with the blinding light and we buy into it.

So, next time you are giving that speech or leading your team, someone out there has their eyes on you and are lapping up every word or action that you exhibit.

Just make sure the message is clear.

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