When I was 11 years old I knew I wanted to become a police officer and follow in the footsteps of my older brother. So, when I turned 20, I applied, was accepted, and failed out miserably because I was injured and I lacked self-confidence. This broke my heart to see my childhood dream go down the drain.
During the next year of getting my body back in shape, the movie, ROCKY; The Eye of the Tiger was released in theaters. After seeing the movie I would listen to the theme song when I went on my 10 mile runs. I would get so pumped up with angry determination that I was not going to let "them" keep me down. I went back to the academy one year later and I was a different person. Nothing they did defeated me and I graduated top female in the class.
I wore that newfound confidence everywhere. I put on my uniform and focused on "saving the world" as if there was a red cape flowing from my back and an "S" on my chest. After 25 years another injury ended my career (I just realized I went in wounded and left wounded).
When I entered the field of mental health that intimidation factor was alive and well. I would literally scare people into change. It was quite effective to see my clients make huge changes because I so clearly understood consequences (legally, personally, and relationally). I changed because I had a calling on my life and a purpose to fulfill. What would be their reason for change? I believed my years in law enforcement gave me a greater perspective of what motivates people to change; pain or purpose.
Then I hired my first employee and everything went, well, let's say it didn't go to heaven. I had to learn how to change again BACK to the pre-law enforcement days of meek and mild. It's like Superman realizing he has to be Clark Kent in order to not intimidate everyone and drive them away. I had to learn not everyone understands the Clark Kent side of me because all they saw was the hands on the hips Superman image of me.
Judge Patricia DiMango, former New York State Supreme Court justice and one of the judges on the hit show Hot Bench also shares her perspective on the duel roles of being both strong and approachable, "I am different as Patricia than as Judge DiMango. I often won't tell people I'm a judge, because that title in itself is intimidating. In my personal life, I want to be pleasant. I want to make friends. But when I'm on the bench, I need to portray a person who has credibility and consistency, a certain amount of power, and the ability to impose tough penalties."
I no longer "impose penalties," with handcuffs and jail, but I do share what possible consequences might be for my clients, and now my employees, if they choose to make poor decisions. On occasion I catch myself standing in a room with my hands on my hips, but now I catch myself, sit down, and listen. How about you? Are you standing with your hands on your hips when you talk with your spouse, your children, your family members? Do you feel you need that stance in order to feel confident that you won't be taken advantage of? Then you also need to realize and embrace the Clark Kent who also resides in you: Be both strong and approachable and you'll have a better outcome.