It has to be said that people are often drawn to anything good. Whether it is a good feeling, a good look, a good mood or even a good atmosphere, people like the way this rubs off on them and makes them feel, and so they want more of the same.
What I’ve learned is that people can see what you’re doing and they want a part of it. They see the impact that your work is having and they want a little bit of that too. They see that you are committed to your own goals, that you have drive and determination, and they imagine it could only benefit having you as part of their vision. This is often a great thing because your work speaks for itself and you begin to have meetings and partnerships and collaborations with people, that in turn lead only to bigger and better things.
So, when you work hard to establish your brand, strengthen your craft and to achieve your goals, the success you reap afterwards also becomes attractive for people. But this can be problematic because it is at this point that you begin to question the authenticity of the people around you.
Keep in mind that not every opportunity is for you and it doesn’t matter if on paper it looks amazing, because if it doesn’t feel right or isn’t in alignment with anything else that you’re doing, then you are well within your right to say no.
In the past, I’ve said ‘yes’ to things I didn’t really see myself a part of, continued projects that I didn’t wholly believe in, traded in my dreams for somebody else’s, only for the sake of an opportunity. For experience. For exposure. But, what I’ve learned is that not every opportunity is for you. You may miss some but you can create many more. People can take advantage of you and your free labour and almost prey on any sense of naivety but I will tell you now I say ‘no’ more than I say ‘yes’.
People love to share their ideas with me and it is truly an honour to know so many exciting things that I can’t talk about yet. It’s inspiring to witness these ideas become projects and successful projects at that.
I do remember someone sharing their project idea with me with the expectation that I would “get on board”. When I politely declined, this person took it personally and insinuated that I should be involved with their project, because they had purchased my book. I’m amazed at that because I write mostly about domestic violence and rape, so if the only reason someone buys any of my books is so that I am now in debt to them, they really shouldn’t be buying it. They should give it to a woman that needs to read it because that is what it is there for!
Anything I get involved with is because I want to, because the message is clear and in alignment with my own, because it feels right, because I have the time and energy for it, because I can do it well, because I believe in the person delivering it, not at all out of obligation. It’s because I am sincere.
These social expectations of saying ‘yes’ to everything because saying ‘no’ is rude is totally lost on me.
If someone has to guilt trip you into being a part of their team, project or business, steer clear. If your heart isn’t in it, steer clear. If it has nothing at all to do with the consistent message you portray, steer clear. If it doesn’t make you feel good, steer clear. No benefits, steer clear. And by benefits, I don’t mean the financial sense because sometimes reward enough is being involved in something you believe in, payment can be that feel-good you get when you talk about it or think about it. Any sense of dread is a warning sign and you should steer clear.
It’s not about staying in your comfort zone, but understanding yourself and your needs enough to correctly assess what constitutes as an opportunity for you.
On the other hand, there is nothing good about going into partnership with someone who just doesn’t want to. The contribution and workload becomes uneven. You’ll feel like you’re making most of the decisions, doing most of the work, generally chasing replies to messages you sent weeks ago. Yeah, you could be a team player but not everybody will be.
This is why it is important to be selective about who you work with because some people will talk the talk. Not always to mislead you or to hurt you, but because they like to people please or perhaps find it hard to say no.
So, be mindful. Pay attention to your gut feeling. If you’re trying to build a brand and gain exposure, think about what you associate with. Does it make sense? Does it clash? Does it feel right?