Every one of us has a priesthood, represented by our name and contribution. This priesthood is defined by lineage and has a host of associated behaviors. Your personal priesthood is quite different from your religion. It is not relegated to any sect or denomination. Instead, your personal priesthood will influence all of your relationships and affect how you are perceived and respected in the world.
You can either actively manage your personal priesthood with discipline and consistency over time, or you can allow yourself to drift off course and just go with the flow. And, whereas there is a huge benefit to actively managing your personal priesthood, there are even greater risks to refusing to manage it effectively. The most detrimental effect is wreckless individualism, which results from not understanding your relationship to family (including ancestors), friends and community. Here is a road map to getting control of your personal priesthood:
ASSESS AND DEFINE WHO YOU SERVE
Describe the group of people who you would like to have the right impression of you. Who enjoys spending time with you? Who admires you? Who do you most want to respect you? Years ago, for example, I decided to focus upon human services professionals, Pan Africanists, and health-conscious families. I chose these groups because I had done my best work with people who belonged to these groups. So, in order to define who you serve, identify a few individuals who exemplify the groups you serve best. Let them be your muse and your model. Pick out the details of their lives; their gender, age, preferences, education, etc. What do you know about them? What is it about them that enables you to do your best work?
EVALUATE YOUR IMAGE
Be brutally honest with yourself. What are your positives? Why do people respect you? Why do some like to be with you? What are your negatives? Why do some people disrespect you? Why are some not attracted to you? What annoys people about you? What do people think of you, in terms of your personality, appearance, skills, and your circle of friends? Do people like you? After you have an idea of your image, you need to get input from others to see what you are still missing. As you might imagine, some of the feedback is not so easy to take. But you have to decide you want it more than you're afraid of it. Ask the tough questions about yourself and be a good listener.
MAKE A LIST
Now that you know a bit more about how you are perceived, think about how you would LIKE to be perceived. Perhaps, you would like to be stimulating, well-versed in your field, a trend-setter, funny, kind, thoughtful, friendly, adventurous, calm in crises, competitive, competent, creative, environmentally conscious, or something else altogether. It's up to you. When your name comes up, what characteristics would you like to come to mind?
Evaluate the elements on the list in relation to the people you serve. Delete everything that will not impress the people you serve. Delete everything that you cannot do with EXCELLENCE. Then group the remaining characteristics into concepts or themes. Prioritize the elements by their impact. Which ones make the most money? which ones COST the most money? Which ones do people like the most? Two to four of the most important elements will be central to your vision. They should be the most important influence on how you create and sustain your relationships. The remaining things are taboo. They are activities you need to either avoid because they mess up relationships or you need to practice under strict rules and discipline. Either way, these are what I call Orisa Lifestyle Agreements. They are small actions that have a big impact on key aspects of your life's purpose.
Identify what you need to work on FIRST. Get involved in programs and activities that develop or nurture your skills. Maybe one of your elements is positivity. Your activities could involve daily positive behavior goals. Or maybe you’d like to be more compassionate and kind. You might need to develop the habit of performing small acts of kindness. You need to be able to deliver on your vision, and that might require changes in habit and not just image.
PLAN YOUR COMMUNICATION
This is so important. Think of it as your bed side manner, in the sense that being a good doctor is more than just procedure and technique. It also requires that you know how to talk to your patients about their condition and what you're doing about it. How can you communicate your vision of personal priesthood? Don't just leave it to chance and hope that people figure out who you are. Be specific about what you say, when you say it and what media you employ to say it. This might seem contrived and forced at first. But gradually, you'll see the difference in who actually responds to you. You'll actually be surprised at how you have not gotten credit for your contribution merely because you had not properly communicated your vision. When I say communication, I mean consciously change your activities, your appearance, your companions and your interaction patterns. Be consistent and persistent.
Develop visible ways to represent yourself. The key is to let people know!
HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
Managing your personal priesthood will take uncomfortable introspection and discipline. It will require that you focus your thoughts and actions in order to avoiding being seen as out of character. If you're inconsistent, people will be confused and they won't trust you. So, as difficult as it may be, it will prove worthwhile, personally, professionally and spiritually.
Obafemi Origunwa, MA | www.ObafemiO.com
Available for lectures, workshops and consultation.
Live the Medicine
Obafemi Origunwa, MA
Thought leader, Ifa priest and author of four definitive books, Obafemi Origunwa inspires metamorphosis through living the medicine that will heal your life and heal the lives of the people you're destined to serve.