- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Passion’
I used to identify myself with my job and career as a lawyer. Whenever anyone asked me, “who are you?” my response would start with “I’m a lawyer”. It was really unhealthy. Worse was that I had no self-awareness of what I was doing to my self-confidence, not to mention my brand. That was so long ago.
Fast forward 15 years and an entirely new career. I LOVE and absolutely have deep passion for what I do for a living. I know it is a natural expression of my talents and of who I am. The expert branding advice I give comes with ease and grace.
Ironically, today I don’t define myself as my career and job. I had to work my brand backwards to get here.
Once I retired from the practice of securities law, I literally spent two years figuring out just who I was and what I was naturally good doing for myself and for others. It was a true (and often painful) exploration of the best of “ME” with no “back” button. It was so worth it to find my brand and my self-confidence.
Once I unearthed my brand, I then worked backwards to find out what would be a good work environment and a good fit for my natural talents and abilities.
It was so much easier to do this than what I find most of us try to do instead. Here’s what I hear all the time:
“If I just find a great new career and/or job, then I’ll be happy and can work on my own brand”.
IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. EVER. WHY? BECAUSE THAT’S NOT NATURAL.
You first have to figure out who you are and what you can naturally tap into as your ability and skill set and zest for life in helping others. From there, and only there, can you then move on to create a career or job or business that reflects your natural abilities and love for doing so for others. That is your brand.
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- What is that one thing you do every day that comes so very naturally to you?
- What do others compliment you most on?
- What is “it” that you are curious about in this world?
- What activity makes you the happiest?
- Now, how can you take these answers and channel them into a purpose and action that comes with ease, grace and benefits others?
Boredom isn’t just about having “nothing” to do. In terms of being engaged and happy at work, it’s really more about not liking what you are supposed to do. Look at it as, ‘I don’t want to do my work because it is not stimulating.
Looking back to my practice of securities law for 14 years, I was bored much of the time. It’s hard to imagine that I could have been bored given the high volume of mentally challenging substantive work I was so blessed to have. But I was. Boy, was I bored.
I was bored because I wasn’t using my natural talents. I am meant to be in front of people and running large-scale operations. I thrive on matching the left-brain analytical risk mitigation aspect of business with the right-brained, creative, innovative thought leadership needed in business, too. Happily, that’s exactly what I do today for my clientele.
As a lawyer, I was only flexing my left-brained risk mitigation side. That was boring because it didn’t leave me with the feeling that I was contributing as I was meant to do. I was missing out on what my greater purpose was in life. I wasn’t working towards a greater cause than myself and my legal practice. That led to shear boredom. Boredom then led to frustration and then to anger- anger at myself, of course. Yet I couldn’t help but project that anger outward onto others. It was a recipe for disaster.
In my world of brand development, boredom is a key indicator of: 1) lack of employee engagement, if you are an employee AND 2) if you are running a business, it signals to me that you are not in the right area of business because you are not using your natural talents. When your “brand is bored”, then you are no longer emotionally resonating with your audience. When you don’t emotionally resonate with your audience, no one wants to hire you, date you, be around you.
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- Are you “bored” at work/with your career, business?
- How often do you get frustrated with your life/job and then get angry at others? Why?
- Do you find your work/career to have a purpose greater than yourself? If not, how can you change that for yourself?
I feel compelled to resurface the conversation regarding the difference between healthy self-promotion and bragging. I initially raised this distinction in my blog post in 2013 and wrote much on it in both my books. However, most recently I spoke at an event and had another question come up regarding this topic.
In particular, the person said she found in her experience that most everyone was always bragging and rarely self-promoting. Fair enough. Before I address her issue, let’s go over the distinction as I see it.
Recall, that healthy self-promotion is always about the other person. How are you a stand for them being better?
Self-promotion is fine if it means you are explaining your uniqueness, raising awareness and thereby, explaining how you can help your target market. How else will you let people know what you do and how you can help them live a better life and run a better business?
Bragging, is when you no longer care about helping others, but looking to gain praise and be better than others. If you have a strong personal branding strategy and self-promote with the intent of helping others, then you can never be accused of bragging or boasting because you have kind, compassionate intent behind your self-promotion strategy. In other words, you are working towards a cause bigger than yourself.
Here’s the problem. Several factors impede our ability to be able to distinguish between self-promotion and bragging. Here are the top 3:
Cultural biases– in many cultures, we are taught to be self-less and not talk about ourselves. The purpose is to be of service and about others. However, the actual impact is that we mute ourselves, never let others know who we are and, if we run a business, can’t put ourselves out there to grow the business and serve others.
Lack of Self-Confidence– Many of us don’t love/like ourselves enough to be able to self-promote well. We do not believe our lives are unique or that anyone would care. We don’t feel like we are worthy of being seen and heard. We also don’t feel like we are worthy of others.
Fraud– I can’t tell you how often I hear clients say to me that they feel like frauds. They may be the best at what they do, but they are so worried that their best is not good enough and that they will be “found out”. I often felt that way when I was practicing law. For me, the actual practice of securities law was unnatural and was not my calling or purpose in life. So even though I was good at it, I always felt a bit out of sorts. Like, I was having an out of body experience each day.
When any one of these factors block our ability to distinguish when others are self-promoting and not bragging then we end up skeptical and jaded. We act that way around others. We treat others like they are out to get us. Plus, we sell ourselves poorly. None of this is a healthy personal brand.
Try on that people really care and are in business to serve us and make our lives better. Then start treating your own business that way and go out there and self-promote to be of service to others.
Oprah has talked about this topic of Stagnation in her “What I know for sure” column of her September 2014 O Magazine, “The Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself Each Day”. Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is my mentor because I have incredible respect and appreciation for her presence in this world. I am taking her topic post and going deeper and looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’.
As such, this blog is part one of four in which I look at the different ways we all stagnate- in business, in friendship, in family and in our spirituality.
I’ve discovered one of the hardest things for humans is to deal with change. After all, no one wants to deal with the uncertainty and fear of something new and unfamiliar. Maintaining the status quo is so much easier and predictable.
The 1998 best-selling book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson addresses the concept of change versus stagnation. The book is about two mice and two mouse-sized humans confronted by change because their supply of cheese in the maze is dwindling. Thus, they can only survive if they are able to go out to other parts of the maze and find new/more cheese. This practice takes bravery and courage. Dr. Johnson found that people respond to change in four ways:
- Deny or resist it
- Anticipate it
- Recognize and respond quickly to it
- Learn to overcome a fear of change and appreciate its benefits
When the recession hit, I felt deeply for people who got laid off and displaced. All of a sudden the Universe had forced people to shift and change and it was scary for everyone. By the time the recession came about, I had already quit my career as a lawyer two years prior. My same colleagues who had thought I was nuts leaving my career all of a sudden became victims of the same fate- except they had not chosen to leave the profession with free will.
You better believe that for the first several years of quitting I often felt like I was nuts for leaving my high-paying career and job: voluntarily. I had plenty of moments of doubt and confusion. I felt like I was out of my mind.
It was rough and scary and confusing. Change was not easy for me, either. However, I never felt like I had a choice to go back. It was like something was calling to me and I had to listen- or bust!
All l could do was trust that my intuition was right. The best way I can describe it was that it felt right to be running this new business.
Another gauge I had was in paying attention to my audience (clients). It was amazing to see how many people cared about my message and took it all in like a drowning man drinks water. My audience motivated me to keep going.
I kept thinking to myself, “wow, this can’t be wrong if I am striking a cord with all these people”. Plus, while the business development end was more complex to develop, the rest felt so easy- like I was exactly where I was meant to be. It was exciting and scary- I had become addicted to it and could never turn back.
I believe the recession was a wonderful reason for people to not stagnate in their careers and as humans, but rather grow and change and evolve. I’m not saying it was easy, but my experience with my client base and colleagues has found it has gotten easier and more exciting.
However, even if you have been through change in your career, odds are you have possibly settled back into your new ways and are no longer looking for change. This mentality becomes dangerous because it stunts your growth and evolution as a professional.
As humans, we are not mean to stagnate by not changing. In fact, we are created to constantly transform and grow. The most often cited goal my clients have when they come to work with me on their personal brands is that they want to be thought leaders and get more exposure and business.
Owning and exuding a personal brand of a thought-leader requires you to be creative. Being creative requires you to try new things. Trying new things means you must be open to change.
How can you start to embrace change in your professional life and have a personal brand that is not stagnate, but in fact dynamic and vibrant? Here are some ideas to get you started:
– Go out there and meet new people in and out of your industry
– Go to lunch with a colleague AND with the person you report to directly (ie, your boss). You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you can learn from them outside the work setting.
– Talk the walk first: tell others you are “open to change in your business/career growth” and “look forward to new ventures”. In this way, people start to see you as a vibrant, dynamic person and professional. You’ll start to believe it, too.
– Find a hobby: something you’ve never tried, but can give one hour per month to explore.
– Exude a different visual brand: start dressing in more vibrant colors. Leave the black and gray in your closet- they are dull.
– Find 10 minutes a day, at least, to sit still and not think so much. Your world will evolve and your mind will expand in ways you never imagined.
– Track how often you laugh out loud or allow yourself to be happy and act happy. Increase these numbers each week.
I always ask the same question in January. So here it goes again- just in case you’ll read and apply it this year.
What do you want to be known for in 2014?
Without an intentional plan and goal about how you want to be seen and perceived this year, you’ll find it a hard road to your hopes, dreams, and ideal personal brand this year. Anytime you put intention and energy behind something, you set yourself up for a solid outcome and success.
So stop and think to yourself:
– What is your passion?
– What makes you happy? Note, this isn’t an item or “thing”.
– What is your BEING? Note, this has nothing to do with your job and career. Your job and career is simply a way you choose to express your being.
– How will you share your gifts and passion and purpose with integrity to the world this year?
If you are having trouble finding answers, stop. Go outside in nature, find a quiet spot, sit in silence for a while. You can also trigger your right-brain creativity by sitting somewhere in ambient noise.