Why am I making this distinction?
Ask yourself this: Would you like to be appreciated for a position you hold or for the person you are? The former one will gain respect for your title, while the latter will gain respect toward you.
Back in 2005 I did a personal/social experiment. Granted, I had no idea I was doing it at the time, but later on I started realizing that it was a test. It was basically the second time I “elevated” the business and social ladder, which – at that time – included also a stronger financial status. For a good period, I would receive calls to hang out, to talk, to join meetings, attend parties etc. Since I’ve never been a party person, I completely disregarded the last. Additionally, I was loyal to my associates, which meant that the few meetings I did attend, I directed toward the people I was working with at the time. The rest was a small part of social life, or better described as “social”.
As time progressed, I realized more and more that those calls were concealing favors. That was the first time it dawned on me: I was a gateway for other people’s benefits. So, I took a rather steep turn in the way I communicated. During that time, the crisis started to hit and was affecting a lot of people, but I pretended that it hit me harder than the rest. Guess what happened. The people who would call me constantly before, began to avoid my callbacks. Surprise, not! Naturally I could have continued my previous course, but it started feeling as a charade that I was uncomfortable keeping up. I value integrity and require from the other parties to treat it equally.
One more thing I did was to stop covering for people who did not complete their assigned tasks and demanded that they would perform their assigned duties, because that was what they were paid for. Suffice to say that the uproar I received is something I remember to this day, and resulted into blacklisting those people for the much bigger assignments that came later on. The situations were nothing short of hilarious, however they did not belong in a business environment.
Years later, I removed myself toward a smaller town, for the simple reason that all my projects involved third countries. There was no need for me to stay downtown, and all I required was the Internet and a fast lane to the airport. This was exactly what I got. Leaving the metropolis actually reduced my time distance from an airplane cabin by half.
Living as an average person did not make me the number of “friends” I used to have, but it started to slightly create more essence in my daily encounters. It built slowly, but steadily over time, until there came the time when I decided to take a huge business risk. One that would “grant” me an even bigger title. As you can expect, similar results started pouring in. Some new “friends” came out of the woodwork.
What would you do if you had the “opportunity” to relive “glorious” moments of the past, only this time on a grander scale?
I started treating them equally. They saw me as an “elevator” and I saw them as “possible assets”. Cruel? Perhaps, perhaps not. The moment all of us realize and deeply understand what people want when they approach us, it is the moment we actually liberate ourselves. We cannot be “guilted” into doing anything, and we literally confront them on an equal basis. This is politics… and I’m not good at it. I’m a creator and an entrepreneur. If the other person wants something I can provide, it is only fair I request something that s/he can provide as well. Strictly business wise, never pleasure (a previous studio I worked for, crashed because of too much of the latter).
Guess what. A few of these individuals became haters. This time, it doesn’t bother me. One cannot reap the benefits from the work they haven’t done. It’s as simple as that.
Thus, what is the conclusion of all the above?
Once you ascend toward the state that you define as success, you are entering a new world. One that will seek to tempt you, please you, and eventually destroy you – if you let it. These will be the people who will address and respect your title, not you.
What is my recommendation?
There is no need to isolate yourself. Just be aware and “split” yourself into two parts: one who is the business person, knowing what the other truly wants; and one who is the real you, and can make the distinction between those who seek to use you, and those who genuinely are there for you. I admit, it is not easy, but you will thank yourself later on. This is why the most – let’s call it – successful people are those who present themselves as common folk.
There is a major difference between rich and wealthy.
Which one do you want to be?