We have now reached the point in the program where we entrust the girls with truly public-facing tasks as a group. We need to see how they are able to work together, how well they’ve understood the brand message and how well they can sell the brand—literally and figuratively. As Diane says: the brand ambassador role is all about selling. It would seem that the girls have now been immersed deeply enough in our culture to know a thing or two about what to do, how to carry themselves, how to treat each other, but it is clear they are still struggling. This might be an opportune moment to step back and talk about an attribute most of our gals seem to be lacking: self-awareness.
Self-awareness means humility, because it means facing your own shortcomings as well as your strengths. And while some of the girls are still under the impression that unmitigated ambition will propel them toward the finish line fastest, it is really their willingness to acknowledge their flaws and work on bettering themselves that will see them through. Each of the girls brings a unique set of talents, personality traits and foibles to the table, but since it seems like the girls have mistaken self-analysis for navel-gazing, it’s no surprise they can’t hear our (or each other’s) constructive criticism as anything other than effrontery.
Cree, Cat and Chantal – as different as they are temperamentally – are the biggest culprits. They really seem to have very little awareness of their internal and external affect. They know they want something, but they don’t know what that something is. Cree wants to heal people but she prefers plants to human beings. Cat wants to win the title but she doesn’t see how many people she’s aggravating on her way there. Chantal feels like she’s getting short-changed but she doesn’t know what she has to offer except “me” and an exceptionally close bond with her mother. Blame it on the “DVF black-out,” the paralysis that sets in when confronted with the ultimate authority figure, but these girls are out of their depth. I am sympathetic to the enormous pressure they’re under, and recognize their deep desire to do this their own, unique way, but they still have a long way to go before we can feel confident about calling any one of them our brand ambassador. It’s not surprising that Cree takes herself out of the running – this job really isn’t for her – but she’s graceful about it at every step along the way, and I salute her for it.
The girls who make the least noise are starting to prove their mettle and leave a good impression: the irrepressibly charming Alli from the Valley is a hard worker, rarely a complainer and always diplomatic, and Hanna Beth who may be shy, but is self-aware. She knows what requires improvement, and she’s not going to put her foot in her mouth while she figures out the lay of the land. She stakes her claim in the group without being disruptive. I want to see more of that.
The girls have a long way to go. Perhaps they all need to take a moment and let the words of our Vision Expo buyer sink in: “You have to remember: it’s not all about you!”