One of my favorites in the movie industry is Reese Witherspoon. I just love her. Until I saw the news clip where she got angry with a cop for trying to arrest them for drunk driving, and was quoted as saying, "Don't you know who I am? You wouldn't do this if you knew who I am."
Don't you know who I am? That's a sentence that gets under my skin every time. And it's not the first time we've heard of celebrities using it. It's more than just rude – it indicates that the person thinks they should be given exceptional treatment because of who they are. Like the same rules should not apply to them. Like their gifts make them better than everyone else. Like they are above the law. Sadly, I have seen examples of this in the world of motivational speakers too – and by people who really aren't as much of a celebrity as they think they are.
I just recently heard an account of a "well known" (again, inside the industry, not outside it) speaker bragging about her possessions on stage, and using it to make the point that the audience should listen to her because her material possessions obviously indicate that she knows what she's talking about – that she has credibility over other speakers.
I do believe that some speakers have more credibility in their area of expertise than others. I'm pretty sure every speaker out there is more qualified than me to speak on the subject of motivation. I cringe when I speak on leadership, knowing that there are so many other women with a much higher profile. So, yes, I do believe that some people have earned more credibility. But I don't believe that it's always a factor of how much money they make, how much money they have, how much they charge, what they own, who they know, who they're sleeping with, or even how many people know who they are. And I certainly don't believe that if you are more gifted, or more widely known, that it entitles you to special treatment. And I think it's sad to watch these people desperately try to hang on to their "status" by making sure we all know their status.
Someone on LinkedIn recently asked us to give our opinion on the difference between confidence and arrogance. Here is mine:
Confidence is the ability to recognize your gifts and strengths. Arrogance is believing you are better because of it.
If you have to keep reminding us who you are – then maybe you aren't as important as you think. Most of us are suspicious of people who tell us how great they are.
I can't help but wonder if arrogance really serves us well in business? If people do business with people they like, wouldn't you think that arrogant people are less likeable and therefore less likely to connect with the buyer? Or has the world trained us to think that status gives people the right to act like jerks?
The world tries to tell us what success should look like – and the status symbols that we should possess in order to show the world that we matter. The world will try to tell you that if your name isn't in lights you aren't seen. And to that I simply say: The world is lying.
Despite the fact that I hope mean people don't win – it's obvious there are a lot of mean people out there winning. So I'm not going to focus on them in this post. They wouldn't listen anyway. I'm going to focus on the rest of us. The people who go through life with a servant's heart. The people who don't let status go to their head. The people who own their gifts, but don't consider themselves better because of it. The people who are accomplishing great things, but reminding themselves every step of the way that they are no better and no worse than anybody else. The people who don't find their worth in others knowing who they are.
To quote myself, from one of my favorite stories, "Daddy Played For Angels":
For every one the world holds up, are countless more that we don't see,
Who's music is just as beautiful – who's song is just as sweet.
I believe that one day, we will hit some distant shore,
And we will see this line of people that we've never seen before,
And these will be the ones of which we all will toast.
For I believe the ones the world knew least – just might have pleased those angels most.
So to all of those faceless nameless people out there – I salute you. The world is a better place because you're in it. Even if we don't have any idea who you are.