You can change anything you want, at any time, for any reason.
I have told many clients this over the years.
You are free. Free to be who you are or want to be right now. You are the CEO of your life. So you decide. You have the power to give yourself permission.
And I’m doing it again today, right here right now. So pay attention.
It continues to surprise me how often, actually almost always, there is resistance to this freedom. Big resistance. Immediately, the questions and pushback come flooding into the conversation.
But what will people think? I can’t just go off and do whatever I want! That’s not what (they) say you should do. This is what I have always done. This is who (he/she) expects me to be. How am I going to explain this? Won’t that seem spontaneous/erratic/kind of crazy?
I did this years ago when I decided to change my name professionally to Rory Kelly Connor.
As you may or may not know, that is not my birth or legal name. It is the professional business brand name I assumed publicly to identify my person about seven years ago. I chose that name for multiple reasons, both business and personal. Sound, strategic reasons that were appropriate at the time and aligned with what I wanted to do at that time.
As a strategy expert who came from working many years in worldwide PR agencies, most recently as a VP, I was examining the power of my brand name. I was and still am an independent consultant operating as the face of my business/brand while also being the person creating and delivering the writing, products and services offered to the world and my clients. It was and is right now all about me. Me, me, me, me, me.
I spent most of my career as Kelly Connor, my birth name. I was and am a PR guru who was the magician behind the client company, the product, the person, the brand. I was the force of nature who knew how to make PR magic happen. Every time. I was the wind beneath the wings, so to speak. It wasn’t about me. It was about them. I won when they did. And the praise and rewards were delivered behind the scenes, not in the eyes of the public. Because it was about them.
After moving out of the PR world, I opened a strategic consultancy that included counsel and coaching. I became a certified Career and Life Coach through an International Coach Federation (ICF) accredited program. I had moved into a new arena where it was all about them (clients) and all about me. In a competitive marketplace filled with coaching options, I had to stand out in the crowd. Publicly. I and my brand name were in the spotlight so my name, my brand name mattered more than before.
Further analysis and research showed me that there are loads of Kelly Connor peeps. Literally. A search on LinkedIn makes that abundantly clear. There are coaches and PR strategists, editors and all manner of KCs. Then add in the alternate spelling Connor people: Conner, Conners, O’Connor. New parents everywhere with a Connor-like last name must all inevitably consider one of the versions of Kelly as their child’s first name (Kelly, Kelli, Kelley, Kellie). I began to sympathize with the Italian Anthonys.
Something had to be done about this situation. I needed to distinguish myself from others. I needed to re-brand my name in a way that was true to who I was and who I was becoming. True to where I thought I was going. I wanted a name that reminded me that it was both a privilege and a responsibility to serve others well, to teach and guide people towards change and growth. This was a commitment I have taken very seriously throughout my career, but even more so during these last seven years as more and more of the work shifted to a multi-dimensional approach that included spirituality, love and healing. I also wanted a name that represented the boundary between my personal and private life. For the world is entitled to my best but it is not entitled to all of me. The new brand name had to embody all of that.
I decided to keep my birth name and add Rory as a first name. It’s an ancestral family name. Rumor has it we are directly descended from King Rory O’Connor of Ireland. So it had the energy of royalty attached to it. This aligned with the privilege and responsibility brand value. It also reminded me that I was a Queen who was committed to ruling my kingdom (my fempire) well. Since I tend to lead whenever I get involved in something, the name felt like an authentic choice for my new brand as well. And finally, the name Rory means red and famous ruler. A fiery redhead, I found this both powerful and inspirational. And I admit, I secretly considered it as a code word for Her Majesty or Her Royal Highness. (I’m Irish after all and we can be mischievous, wink!)
The re-branded name, Rory Kelly Connor, was announced in a press release. I was the one and only Rory Kelly Connor. I had successfully separated my brand name from all the other Kelly Connor-ish peeps. Moving forward, I requested one and all to call me Rory. And most people did. Yet, there was pushback from stubborn refusers. I had anticipated that. My own coach at that time had also changed her first name for her own reasons and had told me to watch how people responded to my name change. So I paid attention.
The marketplace readily accepted it. After all, it was used to Hollywood celebrities changing their names. It saw brand names change as companies merged all the time. It accepted when women married and assumed or added their husbands’ last names. It had successfully grappled with changing the identity to a symbol for the artist formerly known as Prince. It had learned how to deal.
For me, the funny thing was that the people who resisted my name change came from within my own family, my inner circle, from the larger pool of the people who had or still loved me. My family eventually went with the flow of it. They called me whatever was appropriate due to the circumstances. They respected my boundary around the re-brand and my private versus business life. My dad, who had shared the responsibility of naming me at birth, liked Rory and the connection to his ancestors in Ireland. My son calls me Mom so there was no big change where he was concerned. And people I had done business with for years just made the transition.
The main resistance came from my best friend for life (BFF) and the men who loved me. I can’t tell you how many arguments I have had with my BFF over the name issue. People should call you what you wish to be called, I told her. I wonder what she would have done if I’d made it legal, which I considered doing numerous times. She was as stubborn as a rock in a stream. “Kelly is a perfectly good name,” she would say over and over. She was exasperating.
Then there were the men. The old boyfriends or admirers. The guys I dated or had relationships with over time, even as far back as high school. Most of them annoyingly refused to budge on the name issue. A couple of times, I had to draw a line and move them out of the pool if they were interacting with me in public because it was causing brand confusion among others. In truth, the same way of thinking and behaving around my name change was probably the same reason these relationships had never moved to the level they desired! Because I totally have permission to change anything I want to change. In this case, the change was strategic and to the benefit of my work, aligning with where I was right at that point in time. When it feels right, feels authentic, and satisfies my heart and soul. Or frankly, when it aligns with my guidance and what God wants.
People often don’t want to update their programs on how they think about you. They want to think about you as they felt about you in the past. There is memory and power in a name. Quantum entanglements exist in a name, as they do within the truth of any word. Words have power. And there are energy and purpose in a name, one piece of power within the spectrum that makes each one of us unique and important, deliberate and defined. It is a critical piece of what makes you who you are. In business, it is part of your brand energy and promise. Yet, it is also true that people and businesses change as they evolve, as they clarify their values, and as they re-member (who they are and are meant to become).
Jump forward to right now. I’m doing it again. I’m changing my name. A brand new me.
Because a funny thing happened. As I created and completed work from my soul, work that would have my copyright or trademark, work that would carry my words, my thoughts, my heart, my voice, I found myself grappling with the issue of my name. Especially my books. Books I would author and publish (and I love almost nothing tangible as much as I love books!). Something deep down inside of me was wiggling around relentlessly saying no, No, NO around publishing and releasing my books and new products in any other name than my birth name. (One definition of branding is to impress indelibly…marks that cannot be erased, removed, eliminated, forgotten or changed…woah! This was a serious decision!)
In the end, my BFF was right. My name is, and has always been, a perfectly good name. And there is no competition for what my soul is here to do as me, through me. I am who I AM. One of a kind. Plus, this journey is all about coming back to the self and finding our way back to love. And remembering who you we were before the world told us who we should be. And I love who I am and why I’m here.
My name is Kelly. It means Warrior.
I am Kelly Connor, The Love Queen. And I am a Warrior – of Love.
P.S. The clip from Cheers below inspired the title of this announcement and is sure to make you laugh – enjoy!
This website address will catch up when it’s time, in perfect timing.
© 2017 Kelly A. Connor. All rights reserved.