I was going to call this month’s Flourishing Female mailing “Put Yourself About” and then decided such slutty overtones would never do here. So Expose Yourself it is, although actually I’m writing on a rain-whipped day and the last thing I feel like doing is exposing anything to anyone. But of course you know I’m not here for bare bottom cheek, it’s your mind, your intellect that I’m asking you to expose this month.
I listened to a riveting BBC radio 4 podcast recently in which Peter Day (a business journalist if you don’t know him) had a conversation with Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and CEO of LinkedIn. Click here if you’re curious (or want to be more so) and scroll down to 3/3/12, ‘Start-Up of You’. In it the very likeable and laidback Hoffman talks about going for dinner with people we think are smart, people we can learn from. Nowhere was the word ‘mentor’ mentioned (I suspect far too formal and over-egged for a guy who hangs out in California’s Silicone Valley) and it got me thinking about how much richer we could make our professional lives and our personal lives if we had a cup of tea and a thirty minute chat with someone we admire. (Tea comes as standard when clients come to my space, I’m sure it fuels success).
As we all know, one good thing can and often does lead to another and before you know it you could be starting a business on the side, stepping into a secondment or winning a medal for goodness knows what. When I think back to how my book writing adventure started it was a cup of tea on my son’s bedroom floor with a stranger. And no, I wasn’t exposing myself like that!
Whose orbit would you like to enter? Whose mind would you like to tap into? You could doodle some names now. Pop them on a piece of paper and let your mind brew. If the people on your list are mega busy and don’t know you from Adrianna you might have to be creative about how you get some time with them – who knows them in your LinkedIn network for instance? Other than that most people have had their egos sufficiently tickled by you saying “I admire what you’re doing, can I buy you a cup of tea and hear how you’ve done…” to say yes without hesitation.
Something else made me want to write about exposing ourselves this month and it was reading Ben (C) Fletcher and Karen Pine’s new book Flex. They talk about openness, being willing to try new things and where it gets us in life. There’s a story I loved about Ben deciding to broaden his musical taste by listening to anything that other people thought were great. Not just what his friends and academic colleagues think is great, but anybody.
I like that.