“Culture does not make people. People make culture.”

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Maybe it’s because I’m now in my 50s that I can finally start admitting some of my insecurities. I like being able to say that I’m the luckiest cat in the world. And I believe it! I get to live my life on my terms. I’m also helping people and contributing in a way that leaves a positive impact…and it makes me feel good. In essence, I’ve generated (along with Reka) an ideal culture of positivity by surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, particularly those who share the same core values and beliefs. Until recently, I spent years trying to adopt the bravado mentality of not caring what others thought of me, which – in hindsight – wasn’t necessarily 100% accurate. You see, part of me did care and a small part of me probably still does.

While hiking in Croatia, I invested some time into thinking about this. It wasn’t as if I sat down and said, “Okay, Kris. It’s time to think about your insecurities.” I was reminiscing about life and pondering the things that bring me joy, comfort, and peace. It was during this process when I realized how many of the insecurities that had plagued me in my younger years were now completely gone or minimal, which opened me up to identifying what I genuinely liked:

  • I liked the tiny, centrally located studio apartment above an ATM and bakery that we rented versus a luxury hotel with room service.
  • I liked street food or my own cooking compared to an extravagant meal from a renowned 5-star restaurant.
  • I liked traveling for a month with only two pairs of travel pants and washing them in the sink (it was easy).
  • I liked that I carried a backpack rather than expensive Tumi luggage. It was far more practical and versatile.
  • I liked that I enjoyed talking with a local cheesemaker instead of a powerful politician.

Our personal and business economics have changed, which could change how we do things, but I’m finally embracing the concept of being okay with enjoying what I want…and on our terms, at our pace, and with our preferences. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we have to.

This isn’t to say that I’m judgmental of how others embrace their time or success. If you love 5-star hotels and 10-course meals – right on, good for you. I’ll occasionally enjoy both of those; however, when push comes to shove, I’ve realized that I’d prefer sitting in a park, eating a fresh baguette with some nice cheese and tomatoes from the market, and soaking in the surroundings.

Not for everyone. But just right for Reka and me.

I believe that our lifestyle preference organically seeps into our business world, and the more we become aware of it, the better. People may call this “culture” in some cases. Similar beliefs and values are, without a doubt, a company’s foundation; yet, it’s important for teams to acknowledge and celebrate its differences. Differences give us chances to learn and grow, listen and understand. They also allow us to reach out, help, or support people or experiences that may have been overlooked. Either way you slice it, as a leader, it’s critical to be aware of these differences and cultures when exploring the best fit for both you and your team members.

You can do your own thing and go your own way. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing or what the media decides you should do in order to be successful. Let go of the emperor’s new clothes. Don’t be afraid to express your insecurities or thoughts about something simply because everyone else thinks it’s a good or important idea. By doing so, you’ll be equipped to embrace what success will look like for you and your organization, as well the culture of the company. As the leader, it’s your obligation to clearly define and communicate this to your team. The clearer the vision, the easier it will be to live it. And the more you live it, the more you’ll attract the right people who share your beliefs and values. Building a quality team of experts who embrace your business values will only turbocharge your organization.

Are you interested in speaking your truth and encouraging others to speak theirs? Do you want to learn how to develop your company’s culture? Reach out to us today – we love helping businesses grow!

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