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Jan 9, 2020

The Royal Spin – Meghan and Harry “Step Back”

What does Harry’s and Meghan’s ‘step back’ from royal duties have to do with small business, entrepreneurship or anything I might choose to write about? Why would the 6th in line for the throne be important to me as a business owner? The fact is, I’m completely fascinated by its spin.

Like many of you, I’ve been absorbed nightly watching The Crown. I grew up playing with Queen Elizabeth paper dolls and had no concept of her influence or the range of the Royal Family. I had perceived them as purely decorative, but couldn’t have been more wrong, I’ve learned from this docu-drama series. Elizabeth’s influence is massive, and the duties of the other family members is clearly defined. Their attitudes towards their responsibilities is the substance of the drama. So the Prince’s and Princess’s declaration is compelling.

When I was early in my art career, selling my decorated eggs at crafts fairs and teaching art classes to elementary school kids after school, I decided to apply for an arts administrator job. Basically, I wanted to get out of the house, receive acknowledgment as a working adult in a field I enjoyed, and receive a paycheck. I visited my Career Services office at my alma mater to beef up my resumé. During my interview I was asked if I’d received any recognition for my art. “I got a blue ribbon at the Greenwich Craft Show,” I told her. “An award-winning artist” she jotted down. When I described how I turned our family room into an art studio two afternoons a week, she jotted down, “runs a community-based art program.”

I created an impressive resumé, but didn’t even get to the interview stage. It all worked out anyway. What I did learn in the process was how important it is how things are represented.

It’s not what you’re actually doing that seems to matter, it’s the spin you put on it. There’s a plus and minus to this. I, like many artists, tended to downplay my own talent. “It’s JUST…” I would say. I’ve since eliminated the words: Just, Try, Should, Little and the phrase Can’t Afford from my vocabulary (and my clients’). Hearing myself proclaim that I was award-winning or offering a community-based program elevated my self-perception even if it didn’t get me the job. It only becomes dangerous when we get puffed up about the words.

I’m confident that the Royals had help wording their statement to the press. I salute Meghan and Harry for taking this courageous and historically radical ‘step back.’ Times are so different than they were when Elizabeth became Queen. There’s almost complete transparency and very little privacy. Taking this bold step is radical and, perhaps, life-enhancing for this young couple. Their gingerly worded phrasing makes it more palatable. What do you think?


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