Deb Sofield


You are the message

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You are the message

Recently I was having dinner with my friend Reba, and she and were talking about one’s life being the message they send to the world and that got me to thinking about the title of an old political book I read years ago by Roger Ailes called, You Are the Message.

For me it was a book for those considering a life in public office, to remind us that every deed, every word; every action is a reflection of who we are and how we would be seen by others.

From the website about the book, it says, “You are the message.” What does that mean, exactly? It means that when you communicate with someone, it’s not just the words you choose to send to the other person that make up the message.  You’re also sending signals about what kind of person you are. “You are the message” comes down to the fact that unless you identify yourself as a walking, talking message, you miss that critical point.  The words themselves are meaningless, unless the rest of you is in synchronization. The total you… affects how others think of and respond to you.

I knew of Roger Ailes when he was a media consultant for Republican presidents years ago, but setting aside his political credentials, his was one the first books that I read that brought into the light the idea that how you live your life, the words you use, the body language you display is the message you and I send to the world. For a kid of 14, that was a big deal, because I did not hear that type of message from my peer group or my teachers. The only ones who reminded me of my responsibility to others were my parents.

What I find interesting as a coach and trainer, both in the political and corporate world, is that often I watch my clients from the sidelines. I observe how they “show up in the world” in which they hope to master. Because, friends, if you are the message…then you and I need to seriously think about the message we are giving to others.

I started my radio show with a lot of rules for public speaking, because that is my love and I see how success in that field can change a life, a career and a direction for those who master the skills.

But over time it became clear to me that, although many appreciated the information, what was being asked for was a reminder – that you are amazing, you have done good things in your life and for that you should be celebrated.

I also realized that until you knew, believed, or were cajoled into understanding that you are fearfully and wonderfully made– that you are unique in the world–there is no one (I mean no one) just like you, and you, my friend, have been put here for a reason…and you need to get going on why, or you will never fully comprehend the concept that you are the message. Think about it. What messages are you sending to your family, your friends your colleagues or those you interact with on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

For some listening today, you’re not sending a good message, because your message is not defined, your message is diluted and for some, your message has become dull.

I worry when a message is not defined because its easy to become sloppy in your work, undisciplined in your habits and unprepared for your future…but the worst part is that your message is confusing to others, because we judge you by your actions, which speak louder than any words you’ll ever use.

You’re being watched and graded and judged. It is what it is. I know it is not fair, but what are you going to do about it? So I encourage you to think about what message your’re sending to the world.

To get on a right path for success, you have to commit to doing the hard work (and, yes, it is always hard work, until you get into a groove), because, friend, when you are not committed to your calling, you’ll be sloppy in your work and all over the board with ideas that don’t work, and jobs that don’t pan out and you’ll miss opportunities, because you’ve not defined your hope for your outcome and that is a recipe for failure.

When your message is not defined it is easy to be undisciplined in your habits, because you’ve not set parameters to meet and exceed expectations in your life. It is hard to count on someone who is undisciplined, because we never know if you’re going to actually show up and deliver. People who are undisciplined in their habits rarely do a good job twice. Oh, maybe you’ll get by one time, but you’ll not be consistent enough to maintain a following or measure up to standards set by those who need you or your services.

And when you haven’t defined in your calling you could be limiting your future. There was a time when teaching public speaking got tiresome for me, because I felt I was beating my head against a wall when company after company told me that computers were the way of the future and no one needed to learn public speaking skills; because if you could code you’d have a job for life. Really, here’s what I know. You’ll have the same job for life, because the ones who believed in my message of “if you can sway the masses, you could do anything” were the few who moved up the ladder into management and not just sitting in a cubicle coding (which for many is all they wanted but for others…not so much). I had to stay strong to keep on keeping on to convince companies that leadership was built on speaking skills. Had I given up or changed my direction I probably would not be doing my life’s work today. I was definite in my goals to define my future.

For others your message is diluted because you do too much. Friend, stop all your multi-tasking and do one job well and then another and another, otherwise the old line is true in your life that, “you are the jack of all trades and master of none,” and your message is diluted, because you’re leaving pieces everywhere and nothing is making up the whole. That cannot be working out well for you.

You might need to stop and get help in writing up a plan and stick to it, day in and day out, until you succeed. Whether it is financial so you can secure your family’s future by saving more and spending less; by paying your bills on time so you don’t pay late fees; by ending the cycle of more month than money by living within your means, and not within your credit card limit.

I learned early on that I needed to stick with what I do best and what pays the bills even when my fleeting interests lie elsewhere. And when I am financially secure, then I can go and try other things to see if my passion meets my paycheck. I cannot allow my message to be diluted or I will lose my path forward.

But my greatest concern is that for many their message is dull, because they have lost their passion for life. I see people every day who, by not having a plan in place or a map to follow or a reason to be, become absent in their lives. Over time you do the same thing every day, every night, like running in place. You’re going through the motions, but no life is being lived.  It’s like the lights are on, but no one is home.

Come on, your message should not be dull, your life should not be so limited. You live in America, for Pete’s sake – the land of opportunity – you can go and do and be whatever you want. Why are you living a lifeless life, and why are you not doing something about it? Dear friend, step up and get going. I know you’ve hit a hard patch in your life, but it will pass, and look at all the time you’ve lost just waiting for who knows what? I know you are or have been struggling with loss, but believe it or not, time will heal the wounds and memories will grow more beautiful. I understand that physical pain is more than you can bear some days, but that should not keep you from doing the things you’ve dreamed of. I worry when I see good people who’ve grown dull because of the things that life has thrown their way, and instead of throwing it back, they’ve allow it to crush their spirit. Let me ask you – what message is that sending to the world… to your loved ones…to yourself?

Friend, You Are the Message. And let me remind you that every deed, every word, every action is a reflection of who you are and how you will be seen by others. Let’s be Amazing!

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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