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You’re Better Than That

I’m telling myself it’s a good thing. That means I’m putting myself out there and owning my brave. Still…ouch.

We like to call them “trolls” as it makes us feel superior. We’re good. They’re bad. We say things like, “Haters gonna hate” and try to insulate ourselves from all things that we perceive as mean and negative. But when I read the comments, I realized that I don’t think the people writing these things are actually thinking about me at all. I think they’re just expressing themselves out loud. Their snark and cruelty not really aimed at me, but more of a release of sorts. They didn’t like it, so they were expelling it. Got it.

Social media has given us all the power to share our thoughts and views, but it is only a magnification of what’s going on all around us. The question I’m posing to myself (and now to you) is:

If I want to see change in the way we, as a society, communicate with each other, where might my personal responsibility lie?

I remember I was in conversation with someone I truly care about and we were talking about an aging actress and what came out of my friend’s mouth was, “She looks like a toad.” My friend is one of the kindest most thoughtful people I know. I was absolutely shocked. I couldn’t help but think about how I’d feel if someone said that about me. I know she didn’t write it on social media and that she said it in the company of people who love her no matter what, but I’m wondering if maybe we want to start examining our own “no matter what.”

Maybe we want to consider adjusting how we show up in the world, not because of what others might think or feel about us, but because of what we might think or feel about ourselves.

When my son says something cruel or inappropriate I tell him, “You’re better than that.” Not “better” in comparison to anyone else, but “better” in comparison to himself. And, full disclosure, at times I have to remind myself the exact same thing (this seems to happen most often when I’m driving). We unleash our snark and yuck out into the world, with the justification of expressing our emotions, without considering the impact.

Now you might say if nobody is there to hear it, if it’s in a safe space, what’s the harm? We all need a little release now and then, right?

But YOU know. YOU were there. Is that the person you wish to be in the world? Is that a reflection of your best self, yes or no? We cannot hide from ourselves.

I believe that self-confidence comes from knowing that we can count on ourselves, and that’s not just when others are looking. Can we count on ourselves to be the person we want to be in the world as a human being? Not like a brand thing (what do people think about you) but an integrity thing. Are your words and actions in integrity your best most powerful self?

I’m certainly not here to throw stones in my glass house (goodness knows there are many, many, many times when I’ve said and done things that aren’t a reflection of my best), but I do think it’s worth exploring.

I know my best self isn’t mean. My best self doesn’t hurt others. My best self isn’t cruel or callous or indifferent. My best self, however aspirational she might be, is better than that.

At our best, we all are.

©OnStage Leadership

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Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davishttps://www.braveleadershipbook.com/
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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9 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Kimberly — except for what a handful of people create and share on social media, you included, I’m largely spending my time doing other (more productive?) activities. I’ll probably miss some good content, but I won’t miss what I see as largely armchair moralizing and philosophizing. When did we become so omniscient? There’s also a tremendous amount of duplication of content. What, another article on _____ (fill in the blank)?

    What I do gravitate toward are people’s stories. The eminent historian, the late Daniel Boorstin, was fond of saying that all history is biography. I love reading Joanna Bennett’s and Mark O’Brian’s personal stories about growing up. And your story this week about not feeling it in New York, but feeling it in Seattle was a great lesson in intuition. Even when those stories are painful they help illuminate the human condition.

    I’m rambling….and I guess throwing stones. Sorry! Back to Jeff’s regularly scheduled programming.

    • I happen to like your rambling, Jeff. It makes me feel less alone and helps me know you better. Ramble away, my friend! Here’s to “illuminating the human condition” together!

  2. Interesting perspective Kimberly, and I really appreciate the statement “You’re better than that.” It’s a valuable lesson for children, but we should also use it on ourselves from time to time as you suggested. I think social media brings out the very best and very worst ideas in all of us. Even the most thoughtful people have that itch to drop a rude comment on occasion. Sometimes the content is simply asking for it, but as in real life, it’s best to resist the impulse and turn the page. Honestly, who has the time to argue with people through a silly comment box? I know I have better things to do with my time… Besides, it’s rare that anyone will ever succeed in changing another person’s perspective or opinion, especially online! It’s almost a waste of time, so we may as well just ignore the trolls and move on to more interesting topics…

    • It is an interesting testimony to how we tend to allocate our time, isn’t it, Aaron? Imagine if we could spend the same time doing something constructive that would make a positive impact…. Ah! (my idealism is showing again, isn’t it?!)

  3. Kimberly, this right here is such a powerful and needed affirmation:
    “I know my best self isn’t mean. My best self doesn’t hurt others. My best self isn’t cruel or callous or indifferent. My best self, however aspirational she might be, is better than that.”
    Was watching the Impeachment Trial last night and saw one of the speakers do something a bit odd (party here is irrelevant). All I could think of was how I most likely would wake up to memes and mean things being said on social media… and it made me mad and sad.
    We are all so much better than this. #betterthanthis!

    • We are, Carolyn! We SO are! You know what came up for me though, about 20 minutes after reading your FB comment, was that it was interesting to me that we both anticipated nastiness. We’ve been primed to expect it. I wonder if that’s where we could shift things for ourselves? If it’s true that we see what we look for, then if we’re expecting to see nastiness, we most assuredly will see it. But if we work to expect the better side of human nature, yes, we will likely be disappointed all too often, but might we see more beauty in the world? For me, that’s where I want to take some ownership of my own experience. I think we have all been so brainwashed to look for the ugly in each other than we also stop seeing the humanity in each other.

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