For VIP Only
A friend of mine shared with me a conversation in which an authority figure told a lower-ranking staff member, “you’re not among your peers.” The insight aimed to make the staff member aware of her value compared to the people within her professional network.
Usually, when people enter my professional and personal life, I evaluate their character and how they treat me. My findings help me to determine the manner in which I will engage them until the season passes, if it ever does. Because, some associations may be lifelong depending on the purpose of the relationship.
The people who possess the potential to activate the worse in me, I actively disassociate myself from them. As I continue to grow personally and professionally, I remain mindful of how associations and potential relationships can affect me. Many of the outcomes in our personal lives are directly and indirectly connected to the decisions we make and who we allow into our social circles. Two Scriptures, and I will keep it light in this blog, that address social relationships and the effects thereof are 1 Corinthians 15:33 and Proverbs 27:17.
A pastor once shared his experience of buying a piece of diamond jewelry for his wife. The jeweler took him into a backroom to present a series of pieces available for purchase. The pastor concluded from the experience that the best diamonds are “kept in the backroom.”
There are people in your personal and professional life that should never be granted the privilege of being in your backroom. Given who these people are and what they represent, they should be kept in the front at all times and allowed to go no further than the checkout counter.
For entrepreneurs and business professionals, certain associations are costing you money and opportunities. I should be careful to mention that this perspective should be considered in context. Depending on your goals and platform, certain associations are more less beneficial, and can be damaging to your profession.
For example, you’re providing publicly-accessible services where women and children are you clientele. You should not be involved in obscenities or questionable activities (e.g., domestic abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, drugs) that can compromise your relationships with those stakeholders. A stakeholder, as defined by Chen (2019) is “a party that has an interest in a company and can either affect or be affected by the business; the primary stakeholders in a typical corporation are its’ investors, employees, customers and suppliers.”
Personalizing the example give above, as an author and youth speaker, I cannot knowingly be associated or actively involved with entities/individuals that promote drugs, human-trafficking, violence, domestic abuse, or sexual misconduct. Schools and organizations that advocate the protection and welfare of women and children prohibit these activities and uphold strict requirements for people who want to enter any form of partnership.
In the corporate arena, many entities actively sever business ties with organizations and people that can tarnish their image and brand, and thus, impact their bottom line. These entities have an obligation to uphold the values and interests of their stakeholders. A compromise will negatively affect the business-consumer relationship. This philosophy is also applicable to entrepreneurs and private business owners.
So, while some of you may believe that you’re “being real about yours” or “true to who you are”, your customers and business partners may not care enough to support you because of your image and brand. You’re not doing anyone a favor by providing a service when there are competitors operating within the same industry. This is why attention must be given to personal and business development. You must know: who you are individually and professionally, what you represent, your purpose, and what you intend to accomplish in the course of business. Once personally and professionally defined, implement and uphold your character, purpose and values.
If you wonder what your image is, it is how you are perceived by others. In other words, your image is an impression. Your brand encompasses the intrinsic (quality) and extrinsic (features) characteristics of your products and services. Collectively, your image and brand shape the beliefs and attitudes people develop concerning you. Needless to say, people who don’t like you or believe in you, will not support you.
For the passersby, who ask themselves whether this blog pertains to them, it may very well be the case. Introspect and be honest with yourself. Evaluate where you are and where you are trying to go. How long have you been in the same place? And, why have you taken so long? There are some people who cannot go with you where you are going.
If your business, talents or gifts are your “diamonds”, then be careful who you allow around them. Matter of fact, go ahead and post that “For VIP Only” sign on your space.
Chen, J. (2019). Stakeholder: What is a Stakeholder? Retrieved January 1, 2020 from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/stakeholder.asp.