I find it funny how the word ‘shameless’ either conjures images of that Channel 4 series, or someone who’s shockingly brazen. As in “Did you see her shameless plug for her business at the event yesterday?”.
Yet shame is one of our most crippling conditions. Feeling shame makes us want to curl up and hide. It’s mortifying. Like the time when we were doing some weird dance with chairs at school, and it was being filmed, and I was the only one who tripped. Or when my dance teacher pointed out my sweat patches when I was 12 (I mean, I was dancing! What did she expect!). I clearly have a lot of shame memories around dancing…
I bet we can all think of instances where we felt shame. And our gut reaction to them – the whole flight/fight/freeze thing.
I love what Brené Brown has to say on the difference between guilt and shame. She describes guilt as a helpful response to instances of falling short on our values – so when we go off track we feel bad, reflect and get back on course. Shame, on the other hand is where we self-identify as being bad, or wrong. It becomes about us, not the specific behaviour.
It’s the difference between saying, “I’m sorry I rushed past and broke that glass. I’ll replace it” and “I broke the glass – I’m such a clumsy, thoughtless person.”
Anyway – back to being shameless in business. I think we need more of it. It’s not about being obnoxious, it’s about being honest and clear. Taking responsibility for what we’re good at, rather than hiding it. Also taking responsibility if we mess up, rather than trying to blame other people, or circumstances.
Seek out your shameless supporters
So this blog’s about that, but it’s also about shameless supporters. These are people who are great at what they do. And they don’t hide behind a mask, they don’t hide behind their industry or protocols. They don’t expect you to look a certain way or use fancy words. They are people with whom you can be totally honest. It’s kind of like how restaurants with the best food don’t rely on snooty service or fancy dining or elitism to create an impression. They just serve damn good food and let that speak for itself.
I had a marketing strategy day with one such shameless supporter a couple of weeks ago. There’s lots I don’t know about marketing, on the strategic side and the tactical/tools side (heck, I don’t even email my mailing list because I’m scared of using mailchimp – there’s a vulnerable confession!).
I’d been feeling ashamed about what I didn’t know – like somehow because I’m a copywriter I need to be an expert in all things marketing. I’m getting over that now. But here’s the thing – I’ve had quite a few sessions with Louise, I’ve seen her work with other people, and not ever has she made people feel small or not good enough or silly for not knowing something. She’s just her and she talks like a person talking to another person, helping them with what she’s good at, sharing what she knows. She’s good, you should check her out.
Louise isn’t alone – it’s a pattern I’ve noticed over the years. The people who are best at what they do, they don’t put others down, they don’t shout the loudest, they don’t pretend. They just get on with ‘serving great food’ whatever that happens to look like in their industry. I’d say they were authentic but that word’s so overused it makes me want to chew my arm off.
So, two things…
I invite you to be more shameless in business. Be more you without worrying about what people will think.
And I invite you to seek out your shameless supporters – people you can trust to speak openly, be yourself, and not worry about asking daft questions (because there are no daft questions).
I want to be one of those for you. If you’re stuck with writing somehow, whether it’s you’re not sure what to write, how to move it from beige to full colour you, why you should even bother when it doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere… let me help you get unstuck. One to one support is the best way to get shameless! Even better with coffee and cake. Check it out here