R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Find out what it means to me…. I can hear Aretha Franklin belt it out. But how do you get it in the workplace and on production sets today?
Here are 3 thoughts and lessons I’ve learned.
Know and exert your boundaries.
One of the hardest things to learn is when to stop. I still fail at this sometimes. I’m one who likes to push the boundaries but I’ve learned over the years that sometimes you just need to throw in the towel and give it a rest. It often comes down to our self-worth and wanting to be “enough” but even more than that, wanting to be exceptional in the eyes of others. In our inward-focused social media world of comparing ourselves with others’ endeavors and achievements, this can bite back, overwhelming us with exhaustion.
Not being able to say no can also be an invasion by others of your time and energy that interrupts your ability to achieve all God has called you to do. Wanting to help and encourage others is admirable but can also be a disruption to what God’s called you to accomplish. In both of these cases, it diminishes respect because it robs us of success. Boundaries inspire others to respect your time and expertise and it can also show others how to manage their own time and purpose.
Stop trying to be perfect and impress everyone.
You’ll never reach perfection and you can’t please everyone. It won’t happen. This took me years to learn because of an older brother who died as a child. I always was trying to replace him in the eyes of my parents, who, because of their loss, unknowingly talked about him and idolized him to me. He was their perfect child who did no wrong when he walked the earth. I was an adult before I realized how their constant reminders of him had affected me. Don’t try to be perfect or impressive, be real. Be vulnerable and be willing to accept others’ imperfections. Admit when you have failed and then look for opportunities to turn failures into victories. Take the time to look people in the eye as well. Be confident in what you can do, knowing you will never be good at everything. You will gain respect for being real.
It’s amazing to me that I have to talk about this in today’s world, where we can afford to look better for much less. I know torn jeans and, sweats, and hoodies are the go-to choices today, especially after the pandemic, but looking put together, having a style (and I might add smelling clean) will always gain respect. It may seem superficial, but it makes a difference in what people remember about you.
Research says that we size a person up in less than 8 seconds, deciding instantly how much attention to pay that person. First impressions stick. There is also a reason a fresh haircut or manicure makes you feel good. It affects your attitude, energy, and choices. It reflects what you value and affects how others perceive and value you. Others won’t respect you until you respect yourself.
Respect comes down to knowing who you are and being courageous. Courage isn’t about being fearless. Courage comes with making the right choices, even if you feel afraid. If you want to be a “respected hero,” make the right choices. You’ll become the person who stands out and is looked up to by others. It’s worth more than gold, and it’s what God is cheering you on to become. He wants us to be a reflective image of Himself – mind, spirit, and bodily. When you carry respect, it reflects the One exalted high and lifted up. It’s a reflection of God living in you.
Kathleen Cooke: Your childhood and teen years were tumultuous, but God had His eyes of love and care on you. What would you tell a young person today who is living in a challenging or chaotic situation?
Gianna Simone: God has recently been teaching me that He is my provider, protector, and source of ultimate love. That He is enough, and in Him, I am never alone. People will love us but also let us down, which really hurts. Yet, He will NEVER let us down, disappoint us or abandon us. He keeps His promises – always has and always will. We will never be more loved than we are right now. He is truly for us and loves us more profoundly than we know or could understand.
Kathleen: Your life was one of constant uncertainty, and the media and entertainment industry is always rocky and challenging. Many might have given up, but you pushed forward. How do you decipher the ambitions you want from the perfect place God wants you to be in?
Gianna: Such a great question! Many years ago, I had an epiphany about this concept. I know God loves me and wants the best for me; therefore, I want what God wants for me. So, I asked God to help me see and desire the very best for my life and make my desires His desires, and vice versa. I want my will to be aligned with His will. If I feel a strong urge toward something that appears to be a good thing, I know to pursue it and act on it. It always seems to work out.
Oh… I still make mistakes. I am still human. There have been times when I have misread a situation and have had to re-assess and re-route and learn something from God that I didn’t see before. It’s all part of learning, growing, healing, and drawing closer to Jesus. I have seen and experienced lots of things in my life that I know I don’t want, which has shown me more of what I do want in my life—empowering me to move in a positive direction with confidence.
Kathleen: Fear is the word, isn’t it? How do you deal with the constant fear?
Gianna: Jesus tells us in Matthew 21:22, “Whatever you ask for in prayer BELIEVE you have received it and it WILL be given to you” Belief is so powerful, and fear can hold us back from accomplishing our mission(s). “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18) Every single time I have chosen faith/love/belief over fear, it has changed my life for the better. Whether it is speaking at the United Nations (my first ever public speaking event) or jumping out of an airplane (when it was the first time for me ever to have flown in one) or standing on a cliff and bungee jumping off it (my most recent challenge), I love breaking through and overcoming fear. It builds character and strength. The mind is so powerful, and so much of what we want is right on the other side of fear.
Kathleen: Often, we never know how God uses others to influence our lives. Can you tell us about an instance when someone influenced your life and how God used that person to change the direction of your life?
Gianna: When I was in foster care, I had tried taking my life and ended up in a hospital for young girls who had tried taking their own lives, too. I shared a room with another girl around the same age as me – about 15 years old. One night before bed, we were up talking, and I told her about Jesus. I had been attending church, and the messages were starting to make a lot of sense to me, but I hadn’t asked Jesus to come into my heart yet. The next morning, we were in a group setting, all sitting in a circle sharing our feelings and thoughts. She began sharing and started telling the counselor that she had given her life to Jesus the night before, and she no longer felt sad or suicidal any longer. I was in a bit of a shock that my thoughts had influenced her. God used my mustard seed sprouts for her belief.
It delighted me knowing that it had positively made a change in her life, but more profoundly, it impacted my own belief in God and His redemptive power. I soon got out of the hospital, kept attending church, and eventually asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. Very soon after I was saved, God blessed me with my modeling and acting career, which have all led me closer to Him and profoundly changed my life. I can attest that once you give your life over to the Lord, He sets you on the most incredibly fulfilling trajectory and mission in life.
Gianna Simone is an actress, model, and producer. Her film credits include, Star Trek: Into the Darkness, Mother’s Day, I Can Only Imagine, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, and God Bless the Broken Road. She has appeared in several national TV shows and on the covers of numerous national publications. She presently hosts Love, Gianna, which focuses on plant nutrition with top doctors and athletes. She serves as a board member for The Plantrician Project and identifies as a Christian vegan.
Originally born and raised in Boston, she was abused and placed in foster care at 13 years of age. Her story is focused on overcoming obstacles in life. She founded The Gianna Simone Foundation, which focuses on bringing hope and positive change to individuals who have been neglected and abused. She worked directly with Kigali University providing scholarships to survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. She was honored to present her work, on behalf of her foundation, at the United Nations. She works tirelessly with numerous organizations that assist foster care youth, sex trafficked victims, and animal rescue agencies.
Visit Gianna’s website here.
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