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3 things I've learned from taking the backseat in a crowded room

I spend a good deal of each day alone in my thoughts – something that many who know me at surface level find difficult to believe. I enjoy conversing with people from all walks of life, and flashing a smile to strangers and people I know very little about comes quite naturally to me. Perhaps because my career in PR has trained me to bring every conversation to eye level so that a connection can be established that allows us to collaborate in bringing goals to fruition at any given time. This is what us publicists do – we relate with all publics, through dialogue and written words over time.

In my various interactions, I’ve come to appreciate that deep down inside, we all share vast similarities, but only time and conversation can bring those to the fold. I thrive the most when I have an opportunity to bring someone closer to having an appreciation of who they are but still, even in my ability to convey messages and by grace, this process takes time. It takes time and commitment to see through the initial presentations of others and to allow them to get a glimpse into your life – if only you trust them enough to open up. Even as I speak before groups of women from time to time, I am very much that person who will take a back seat in a crowded room.

I used to think that was a hindrance to my desire to helping women sift through their stuff to find the authenticity that resides within. But time and more recent encounters have shown that my ability to feel comfortable as an observer in a crowded room is my strong point. If the numerous gifts that GOD has given me could be bottled up in a container, taking a back seat in a crowded room would be one of the key ingredients on the label. I'm on a quest of self mastery, and part of the process has challenged me to clearly identify my strengths and weaknesses as reflected in my behaviours and preferences. Being in a crowds in a confined space can teach you a thing or two about yourself, and here are three things I have learned recently just by taking the backseat in a room filled with varying personas.

1. Being you – unapologetically you – is about knowing and accepting the things that are distinctively you. Take me for instance. If you know me well, you will also know that I love to accentuate any discussion with a good chuckle. I spent too many years in my former life drowning in the promise of doom hanging around people who didn’t know how to laugh or smile from within. I used to downplay my sense of humor because I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously. Growing up and walking my path GOD’s way has shown me that people will take me seriously if I remain true to myself. And so this is what life has become for me – a journey that includes unearthing the many things that separate me from everyone else, including finding every opportunity to drop a good joke even when what’s going on around me is a complete riot.

2. It’s perfectly okay to cry out for help. I wasn’t always confident to stand in front of a room full of people and share my story or churn out strategy documents that shape corporate messaging for global brands. As a matter of fact, I’m yet to reach my peak on either of the two things I’ve mentioned in this point. But, I am privileged to learn from some pretty awesome coaches along the way. I’ve come to appreciate that growth and learning comes from asking questions.

My day-to-day life is about asking a lot of questions – ask my husband – he’ll concur because I ask him for guidance on many of the things I too am trying to figure out as my earthly, GOD-ordained Counsel-in-Chief. Taking a second to asking for help and crying out for it when I need to ensures that I get better at doing things moving forward. Surveying the parties in the room, periphery or social settings, also opens up an opportunity to identify who i'm likely to learn from, tapping into the mind’s eye of others around me and getting wisdom from those I classify as the greats in their game. There is always an opportunity for me to change my strategy in tackling the next assignment at hand. To get tips on how, ask for help.

3. Observation is a great teacher. As I mentioned before, I’m that person that will likely take the back seat in a room full of people, just so I can observe the personalities, behavioral traits and conduct that surrounds me. It’s not always that the loudest is the most confident, neither is it that the quiet one is the least intelligent or has nothing to contribute. As I mentioned above, taking a second to studying your surroundings before you jump right in may show you who in the room is the most powerful or filled with the most wisdom. And those, ladies and gentlemen, are the parties you want to catch yourself gravitating towards.

Of late I’ve been thinking through the huge responsibility that is mentoring and counselling people through and now, the Reinvented movement. Scrolling down social media feeds, there are countless bold messages, advocating authenticity in being and doing, success stories and testimonies shared. I do wonder though, how many of the messages shared come from a real place. Do the messages come from a desire to be impactful, to find a voice, to show some strength in the face of weakness or to hide a dark reality?

My continued prayer is that GOD shows me the things I need to learn in seasons of observation, or when in rooms full of people unbeknownst to me. I pray that as I continue to evolve, I remain true to myself and the people most important to me. When all is said and done and GOD asks me to account for my time, I want to be able to narrate my journey, and just how He has in His appointed time, revealed to me those things that allow me to sit comfortably in any setting. No frills, no need to posture, just simply me, ready to take on any challenge no matter the strength or weaknesses I wear on my sleeves. I pray this too be a part of your reinvented journey, as the challenges and lessons learned will be plentiful!


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