Many of you in the U.S. may be headed to family barbecues on Labor Day, where you will meet a variety of your relatives over grilled corn and chicken.
In your daily lives, vast numbers of fans may hang on to every word of your marketing or career advice. Or revel in your ability to write flawless code, or dispense wise legal strategy.
Your relatives, on the other hand, still remember how much you cried on your first day of kindergarten. Or how much you partied in college, and had trouble holding down a job at McDonalds.
So when you casually share some of your recent successes, or offer advice in an area you have expertise in, don’t be surprised if they either give you a blank look or reject your advice outright.
It is not because they don’t love you, or aren’t proud of you, it is most likely because they cannot reconcile the child you were in their eyes with the adult you have become outside of their home.
Especially if you are a bit of a weirdo, and are doing things that defy mainstream ideas of work (any job or business with “social media,” “freelance” “location-independent,” “in the cloud apps,” or “blogger” in the title automatically qualifies you for pitiful looks from long-time friends and relatives).
I think this is the case for everyone. I imagine:
- Dr. Phil’s mother ignored his advice, flinging back “How’s that working for ME? How’s that working for YOU?”
- Hilary Clinton’s brother says “Yeah, so you are brokering peace between Israel and Palestine, what about returning my phone calls? Are you too good for your own brother?”
- Seth Godin’s mom says “Be remarkable? How about remembering to put your plate in the dishwasher? Now THAT would be remarkable!”
On a recent (wonderful) family vacation at a beach house in California, I listened to all kinds of discussions about the futility of social media. At one point I feebly attempted to explain how useful it can be, but soon saw that my daily life was so much different from my relatives that it would take too much energy to explain it.
So I changed the subject to more enjoyable things — recipes and child-rearing techniques, great books and fun childhood memories.
At one point, me, my successful and accomplished editor sister and my successful and accomplished scientist brother were ribbing my mom for not buying us the toys we wanted for Christmas 40 years ago. We were all in hysterics, and the love and connection we felt at that moment was so much more significant than anything related to our work lives.
Your superpowers are real. You know that from the impact you make on a daily basis with people who “get” you.
So relax, grab a smoky drumstick from the grill, and whatever you do, don’t share with Uncle Milton that your Alexa ranking has improved 42% since last time you saw each other.
All he wants is for you to listen to his fishing stories. That is using your superpowers for good.
Enjoy your weekend!