What’s in a name? "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet." -William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet.
But would it? As I sat in meditation yesterday, repeating my name as a mantra, I realized the true power and yet simultaneous powerlessness that names hold.
The Journey to Self-Discovery
I’ll backtrack a bit to mention that on my way to meditation, I was listening to “Mother Night,” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Though I was drifting in and out of paying attention, something that hit me was that certain cultures believe that there are only 12-20 types of person, and either you fit the mold or you are an outcast who has to try to squeeze into it. She went on to discuss the power and importance of positioning yourself in places where you don’t fit in because that’s where your magic is needed most.
So when I got to meditation, I was already primed for the realizations that came. I truly believe there is no such thing as coincidence, but more on that another time.
The Identity Dilemma
As I sat cross-legged, I repeated my name in my thoughts. Διαμάντω Διαμάντω Διαμάντω. Then Diamando Diamando Diamando. The Greek version is three syllables and flows smoothly. The Americanized version is more staccato, at four syllables. I repeated. First one, then the other. Which one felt best? I was trying them on for size to find which one was truly me.
My mind started to wander to "Mother Night" and my childhood. I was born and raised in America and gifted with a very Greek name. One that my mother was certain no one would be able to pronounce properly. After some confusing deliberation about spelling, the pronunciation of Diamando was decided. While it was still a challenge for most, it was at least using sounds and cadences familiar to English speakers.
Did that stop people from asking immediately, "If [I] have a nickname?" or if they can "just call me D?" No. Each time I am presented with a question of that ilk, I reply with a firm, "No. I like my name."
Because a name is an identity; words hold power, and I had already conformed enough with mine to make things easier for others.
Then came the unexpected revelation– the genesis of my people-pleasing and care-taking tendencies all started with a name. My name– forced into a box that people would recognize; for the ease and comfort of others. Pushed into one of 12-20 molds.
With that realization firmly rooted, the meditation became a solid Διαμάντω Διαμάντω Διαμάντω. There was no question.
The Business Lens
And then visions of animals and women started showing up in my mind. Souls that never quite fit in or were misunderstood. As I repeated my name, I found myself traveling between each of these archetypes and asking questions:
Which ones fit?
How did they shift when my name and essence entered them?
Where did I feel at ease in my body?
Where was I struggling?
A name. What's in a name?
There is so much in a name. Yet that name is also a lens through which we see and are seen. Even with limited incarnations of a name, there are limitless ways that name can be expressed. Each holds unique wisdom and meaning for both the speaker and the beholder.
Bridging the Gap to Business
Which brought my mind to business. (Quite the meditation, I know). But as my teacher explained, the exercise of the mantra is the tool we use to bring ourselves into a meditative state. If you find your mind wandering, you're doing it right; as long as you come back to the mantra.
For now, back to business.
I often hear people worried about what to call their business or program or product. In fact, in more cases than not, people don't move forward on their business plans because they are fixated on finding the perfect name.
I get it. Names are important. They are the first way you are introducing yourself to the world.
The Power of Essence
But are they truly the initial way you introduce yourself?
Think about when you first meet someone. Before you put out your hand to shake and say, "Hi, I'm [fill in your name]," there are so many other steps. Maybe there is a smile, a nervous energy, or a visible excitement. There might be a clearing of the throat, a brush of the hair, or a wiping of the palms on your pants leg. All of these things paint a picture long before you've had a chance to open your mouth and utter this name on which you have rightfully placed so much importance.
You might challenge me here to say that in written conversations (emails, in particular), your name is often the first thing people see. I challenge you in return to ask yourself:
Is that what you want them to come away with from your message, the fact that you have a name?
Or are you hoping to convey more once that's out of the way?
Don't you wish you could convey it all first and then have your name be the beautiful summary of all you have to offer?
I, for one, will never look at an email the same way after asking myself those questions. Which brings me back to your business names. In most cases, people will be introduced to a dozen or more descriptions and hints about your brand before the name registers or is spoken. This is especially true when an entrepreneur is the face of her business.
Brand Identity and Essence Matter Most
This is exactly what you want. You want your brand identity to be immediately recognizable as YOU and the essence of your business. The name gets to be something that expresses that. And you want your customers and clients to see that essence and what it has to offer them. That's your main goal (and hopefully, joy) as an entrepreneur.
Your business is an expression of self. It carries its own identity, with all the smiles and sweaty palms that might go with it. And yes, it's great when you find a name that perfectly sums that up for you.
But the truth is, even when you have found the name you can repeat as a mantra for 20 minutes and feel at ease in its skin, you have no way to control how anyone else will receive it. Because they are going to see and hear it through their lens, which is different from yours and the person next to them.
Embracing the Power of a Name
A name has power, and that power is uniquely given and received by each of us.
So if you're stuck on a name that is keeping you from moving forward in the pursuit of your desires and dreams, keep these things in mind:
Your essence is what matters most
No one sees or hears anything the same way
You will find that perfect name only when you fit perfectly into your unique self and your unique gifts
That perfect name might feel less than perfect as your business evolves, and that's OK too. You can always change a name.
Because... your essence is what matters most. You are the sole keeper of that. That is your power and your gift. Be clear on who you are and what you have to give to those who need you, and the rest will come.
If you want to explore this more, let's get on a call to connect. Even if you only care to discuss this philosophically, I would love to hear from you.