Take yourself seriously. No really. Do It.

This series has been cooking in my brain for a while – thanks to Andy Sack when he gave the Get F&*%ing Aggressive talk at Ignite Seattle. These thoughts just exploded after I had a talk with Liz Strauss after a super session by her and Carol Roth at EVOConference. And then, there were a number of awesome people who gave me their time and advice in between in person and through email  – including Michelle Goldberg, Ayush and Greg Gottesman. So thanks to all of them. Really.

Liz Strauss turns on her magic

Liz Strauss turns on her magic

I never used to be this way. No, I was not. Or perhaps I have always been this way and never seen it.

And then, one day, it happened. Out of the blue, I got a completely disrespectful and insulting email from a complete stranger on a message board. A complete stranger, who had seen but a few messages on mine on the board. Needless to say, it troubled me to no end. While that incident might have had very little to do with me at all, it made me think. Think a whole lot about what each of my actions project about me. Each time I try to make myself smaller so I do not come off as pig headed, am I actually letting people think I am stupid? I figured I had to do something about it ….

I have started to “own it” and “claim it” as Liz Strauss would say. When someone compliments me on my work I say “Thank you”. And then I thank THEM for the support and encouragement. When someone is curious about my work, I tell them the story of my work – about my passion for stories and connecting people across the world. I certainly ask them about their work, but I don’t feel guilty to talk about my work. I do not cringe and hide or try to change the subject when someone says a nice thing or two about me. No I do not.

So, I wonder why I finally started to change?

I guess I  just got tired of disrespecting myself. Blowing myself away. Just tired. I would not disrespect anyone else this much, then why am I doing it to ME? I just figured it just HAD to change.

Can you relate to this? Does this sound  like you? Can you not take a compliment with a straight face? Are you not claiming your worth? And then I wonder why people do not see how hard you have been working on something?

Hmm, sorry to say, but it is all mostly YOUR fault. ALL YOURS and mine


I am slowly making that transition. I am focusing on taking myself seriously. Really. I am getting behind myself and looking at myself from the outside. Being as ruthless and respectful as I would want others to be with me – because I want to make those mistakes and learn early. And then, I want to help others take themselves seriously.Yeah, that is my bigger mission.

Indeed, it is easier said than done. Doing it actually requires lots of conversations, brainstorming, analysis and planning. Taking ourselves seriously is about ourselves but not all about ourselves. It is about our dreams, goals, communities, families and our own realities. It is about taking ourselves seriously no matter what our lives are like – even if our goal is to just have fun. It is a long journey – one where we have to learn to respect ourselves, realize our worth and yet stay humble. It is an awesome journey though, an empowering one.

As I started to learn to “own it” in this past year, I have learned that it is a wonderful feeling in many ways. Chances are you will feel all of see all of this and more if you “own it” too …

  • For one, I clearly respect myself and my own time more. Which means, more of my time goes to things and people that really matter to me.
  • I feel so much more confident. A hundred times more. (not that I ever appeared less confident – but you know, it is that feeling on the inside)
  • I hold myself to much higher standards. I push harder but smarter. I focus on results.
  • Opportunities come. Yup. People pay me for my time and my brains. And *free* is when I want to do it – not when someone else wants it.
  • It is empowering in the strangest sort of way.

What I loved about Liz Strauss’s and Carol Roth’s session at #EVOconference is that their no nonsense attitude makes people want to act. In a world where so few people are actually willing to give honest, action oriented feedback, these two women did.

Alli Worthington And Liz Strauss

Alli Worthington And Liz Strauss

The world needs fewer fake people and we need to realize that  being “nice” is a complete disservice to the people we care about – be it ourselves or the people we mentor. So, while I work on taking myself seriously, I am committing to giving more no nonsense, honest and actionable feedback to people that ask for feedback and the folks that I mentor.

So, I ask you, can you take a compliment with a straight face or do you cringe? Do you think you are “claiming” who you are? Are you owning the awesome parts of you?

  • Jannie Funster

    I think I can take a compliment, but I've had to learn to do so.

    This is WAY inspirational, thanks. Liz has been a mentor of mine for a while, and she doesn't even know it. Her blog always inspires.

    I have resolved to focus an hour a day working on my dream, instead of dreaming about the dream!


  • thinkmaya

    :) Yeah, I think Liz and Carol said the difference between dreams and goals is intention :)
    Makes sense, right?

  • cathlawson

    Hi Maya – I can resonate with everything you say. I used to be a lot like you described and sometimes I still can be – depending on who I'm speaking to. But I've improved a lot over the years and taught myself to say thank you automatically when someone pays a compliment.

    Totally agree on what you say about being “nice” too. In the past, I've been “too nice” to rude patronizing people – playing it dumb instead to avoid confrontation or disagreement. And I've been “nice” to staff who where performing badly cos I didn't want to hurt their feelings – the truth is, being “nice” was causing them more harm than good.

    Brilliant post. And I agree on Liz Strauss too – she is someone I really admire and I hope to get over to the US to a conference one day.

  • http://twitter.com/JulieDiazAsper Julie Diaz-Asper

    I so needed this post. Culturally and personality wise I find it very hard to take my self seriously and say no. But what is helping as i try, try really hard is to remember that its more respectful to the compliment giver to just say thank you and appreciate the support. I think trying to brush it off or ignore is being a bit dismissive and even a bit disrespectful to the very nice person who gave you a compliment. Thanks for sharing and it was great to meet you at evo.

  • http://twitter.com/ankurk ANKUR KAKKAR

    i think the underlying idea is to be honest so long as it does not harm your business !! the problem today is that lies and pretense have become so common that we tend to be attracted to them and we easily forget that truth and honesty are virtues !! lets not make the fundamental mistake of trading a virtue for a vice . as far as commenting on public forums and mentoring is concerned, we need to be careful while offering the honest advice because if are constantly scared of being impolite and hence indulge in lies simply to placate the other person, that wont be called mentoring, it would simply be called encouragement .. and encouragement does not always mean help. encouraging a criminal is quite different from encouraging an honest policeman.

    something like this should work fine ” i understand your situation, but i believe your approach is not methodical and it lacks so and so …… such an approach is fraught with more risks and is unlikely to yield a positive result”.

    PS : i really hope you have not been dishonest in guiding me 😛

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  • http://jdmeier.myopenid.com/ J.D. Meier

    I'm a fan of keeping it real. I always liked Wooden's point that we can agree to disagree, but we don't have to be disagreeable. At work, we practice “open and respectful” which means, speak your mind, but remember we're on the same team.

  • http://dadarocks.com/ DaDa Rocks!

    I blush when complimented – because really I'm never sure why or what something really thinks – wish I could read minds 😛

    but I am now claiming who I am and owning that space and the parts of me that are awesome (and even sometimes lovable :P)

  • thinkmaya

    Well said JD. Agreeing to disagree and basic respect for each other is key.
    And there is no big and small – everyone is BIG in one context or another.

  • thinkmaya

    Cath – you should come! I think Blogworld is a great conf to be at.

  • thinkmaya

    So true – when someone is fake or just being “nice” I can almost see it.
    And ofcourse, you are completely lovable ;P

  • thinkmaya

    Julie – so nice to see you too!

    Cultural is a big aspect of this behavior, yes. For me as well. But I am a rebel – so that helps some :)

  • http://twitter.com/PureNaturalDiva purenaturaldiva

    Love this! “People pay me for my time and my brains. And *free* is when I want to do it – not when someone else wants it.”

  • thinkmaya

    Thank you :)

  • cathlawson

    I will definitely try to make it next time Maya – I'm going to check out the details now. I would also like to attend SobCon.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Straight face and with a big smile. You can't teach what you don't know or do!

  • Asouthernfairytale

    LOVE this Maya! Love it! Fabulously written.
    I so wish that I could have attended EVO.