When we bought our blueberry farm we knew we wanted the name to reference 1 Cor 9:22, where the Apostle Paul says something about having Common Ground with all people, because it cast a vision on what we wanted for the Farm. The logo designer we hired gave us one of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever gotten: people don’t really care what your name is, they care what you do. So we named the farm Common Ground Farms Blueberries, not just Common Ground Farms, or Common Ground. Feel the difference?
I’m so aware of that now as I drive around and notice other logos. It’s strange how much it annoys me when business owners have the audacity to just throw a word and a picture out there without telling me what they do. I read, and think: am I supposed to know what you do? How are you going to grow your business if I don’t even know what you do? Are you thinking you’re so damn important that I want to spend time looking it up? In fact, because of your arrogance, I’m pretty sure I won’t ever patronize you. These are things that go through my head. And I appreciate business names that are very clear and unambiguous about what they do.
I guess it’s another reason why I am uptight when people call my business Next Level Fitness because it isn’t Next Level Fitness. It is Next Level Fitness Training. Because that’s what I do: fitness training. It’s a very important distinction.
Which brings me to my point about the honesty with which we portray ourselves, and the justifiable reasons why we don’t.
I read a post today from an exercise instructor who wanted advice from her peers (other instructors in leadership positions) about how to reprimand a man via email for not wearing a shirt to her exercise class. She thought it was inappropriate in a gym that mostly caters to women. That’s the gist of it, anyway.
One of the reasons why I want my own gym is because I want a space where everyone can just be who they are. If you want to show up in stilettos and a mini skirt then, My goodness! show up and stilettos in a miniskirt! Why should a grown-up be told what she should wear to a gym?
A place I used to go to, had a giant sign taking up a whole wall numbering the rules of the gym. About 10 things regarding voices, clothing, cleaning up after yourself, moving equipment around. And the last rule was: If you don’t like these rules, we’ll gladly show you the way to the YMCA.
I loved this because in the town I was in, it was exactly why this gym would never compete with mine. In my gym, we have one rule, well, two:
- Show love and respect to others
- Show love and respect to yourself
That’s it. If you respect others, you wipe up the equipment and put it away. If you love yourself, you pay your dues and you show up, etc. To me Love/Respect + Autonomy is always best.
It also means, if you show up in stilettos and a mini skirt, or shirtless to a place like my gym where it completely acceptable, and someone else asks you kindly to change because it’s a distraction, you say “By all means! I do not want to distract.” Because there is not judgement. Only love. And respect.
So, I guess this is where I make my point. I think we all want autonomy for ourselves, but we forget about showing love or being love. We want love for ourselves, but we forget about others’ need for autonomy. I think people are afraid to express their authenticity; afraid to use distinct, transparent language about who they are and what they represent because they fear others will be unhappy with them, or show disapproval toward them. If the default was love, there is no fear. When the default is love, we accept in love and we offer in love.