- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘Stagnation’
Before you think I’m asking you to make a new year’s resolution that you won’t keep, think again and choose to see things differently. Yes, a new year is here. With it can come the drudgery of the past or an opportunity for you to develop a brand for yourself that will leave you happier and more successful. Each of us has a choice.
I personally don’t get the concept of a new year’s resolution. I believe I need to always be resolved to be better and think differently. Otherwise, my brand stagnates and, in a way, so does everything I touch. Besides, resolutions sound kind of scary to me. It feels like there’s no turning back — if I don’t keep my resolution or do it “good enough”, then I fail.
Deliberate brand creation is a marathon, not a new year’s sprint. That’s what I always tell all our clients and also why 99% of our clients are in some sort of maintenance program with me once we have developed their initial brand. The process is never “over”, your brand is never “done”. The good news is your brand just evolves and grows with time as you grow and change. That’s exciting! That takes time, effort, deliberate thought and deliberate action and of course, a plan.
So let’s look at it differently and have you develop your brand from a new perspective. Close your eyes and picture yourself on December 31, 2016. An entire year has come and gone.
How is it that you are remembered by the world on 12/31/16? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded”. Barbara Stanny said in her fantastic book, Sacred Success, “All that matters is that your legacy reflects your purpose, makes you proud, brings you pleasure, and inspires or improves something or someone else”.
The memories others have of us are our brands. Think in terms of memories. It’s then easier to relate to branding as a concept.
To get started, ask yourself:
- What’s been my contribution in 2016? In answering this look at:
- Did I have a particular cause and/or purpose greater than myself for which I stood?
- How do people remember me emotionally? As Carnegie once said, we are all creatures of emotion, and not logic. Emotions go farther than any of us want to believe. Positive emotions leave us with positive memories.
- Did my contribution leave joy in the hearts of others ? Notice I did not mention leaving joy in the mind’s of others. The emotion of joy is captured in our hearts.
- Did I choose to see people’s differences only, or was I compassionate towards others and towards MYSELF choosing to see our similarities?
- How can my contribution continue to grow (and my brand develop) in the upcoming year?
Here’s to a 2016 filled with all the wonderful memories that leave you as the brand you want to be remembered by.
I recently took to reading the Tao Te Ching. It is known worldwide as The Book of the Way, which is really a guide to the art of living. It was written by Lao-tzu, said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.).
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu insists on the concept of “doing not-doing”. What this means is doing less that is forced and allowing life to just flow. How often have you experienced the situation where you kind of “gave up” trying so hard and did less? Did you end up seeing/getting better results? I am guessing so.
In this concept of “doing not-doing”, Lao-tzu does not mean being passive. Unfortunately, that’s what we all seem to think it means to sit still and let life happen.
I remember in my practice as a lawyer, I was always “busy” doing things. If it wasn’t the active practice of law, it was something else: teaching yoga, running, reading, other appointments. My list was endless. I used to think I had to be a certain way as a lawyer. This left me very rigid and blocked so much of my creativity as a lawyer. One thing was for sure: I wasn’t going with the flow of anything in life. I was unhappy a lot.
As I shifted professions, I realized that the end was not my goal. I had no real “end” I was shooting for anymore. After all, I no longer cared to make partner in a law firm or to be General Counsel somewhere. Been there, done that.
This reality freed me up to just “be”. That’s right. Just sit still and do less. Now, I’d be lying if I claimed to be in perfect mastery of just “being” and not running around thinking I have to do so much. I’m working on it. I’m a work in progress. I’m proud of myself for even having self-awareness around the concept.
Here’s what I have learned: strong brands do less and “be” more.
No where was this clearer to me than watching the finals of American Ninja Warrior the other night. The final challenge, on the road to being the winner of $1,000,000 and the title of American Ninja Warrior, was to climb a 30 foot rope in under 30 seconds. When they interviewed the winner and asked him how he mentally was able to achieve this amazing act, he said, “I became one with the rope”.
Now you may think this is cheezy or crazy. Fair enough. But consider, what he was really saying was the same thing Lao-tzu said: he was being and not doing so much. He was finding his rhythm and groove with the rope instead of fighting against the rope to climb it and conquer it. He wasn’t resisting life, but flowing with it. Resistance leaves us tired and unhappy. That’s a bad brand.
Effective brands that resonate emotionally with their audience have certain magic to them. To do less, is to be more adaptable, flexible and go with the flow.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying to sit around and be passive and lazy. Strong brands also have conviction, drive and a purpose to be of true service to others.
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- How much do you take on in any given day?
- How does it make you feel when you don’t cross off everything on your list? Do you consider yourself a failure?
- How do you come across to others when you take on so much and are constantly “doing”? Do others see a flexible, happy brand or a rigid, tired, stressed and unhappy brand?
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?
So we finally got some real rain here in Southern California over the weekend. I mean rain that soaked everything and caused flash flooding. Yay, I say!
We don’t get rain very often in San Diego. We’ve had a drought advisory for a long time. Grass was no longer green, but brown dirt. I mean 24/7 sunshine is great, but it brings about its own set of issues.
So why do you figure that when we finally got rain over the weekend, the response was not absolute joy from everyone?! Don’t get me wrong- there were lots of grateful and happy people like me. However, I interacted and saw lots of people who were less than happy. They were grumbling about getting wet, having their weekend activities ruined, etc. Some of them were talking about the unfairness of it all. The unfairness of rain- really?
As we’ve all heard, variety is the spice of life. Without variety and change, things get stagnate. So what does rain and variety have to do with your brand? Good question.
Climate can say a lot about the residents that live there. I grew up in Indiana, lived in Washington DC for many years and now live in San Diego. I travel a lot. Over time I started to notice that those people living in four season climates were generally very different than those living in tropical climates.
I remember growing up in Indiana how much fun the change in seasons brought for me. We used to gear up for Fall- raking leaves, bobbing for apples, getting our costumes ready. We used to rejoice as Spring arrived. We really looked forward to the warmth and sunshine and appreciated the Summer heat and fun. We prepped for winter by sealing the deck and driveways and getting the car “winterized”. We got our sweaters out and got our sleds out of the garage.
I’ve discovered people living in four season climates are usually more adaptable and resilient in life. They tend to go with the flow and are more “prepared” for life, shall we say. I believe it has to do with the fact that the change in seasons brings about the mentality of change. Change is about variety and requires us to adapt and grow and stretch ourselves.
In brand development, the goal is to be a creative thought leader that people remember and are emotionally attracted to. Creative thought-leadership comes about when we access our right-brain more often. If you don’t like variety and change, then odds are you are not using your creative mind as much as you could be. Odds are you are using your left- brain more. This leaves you linear and analytical, but not as creative and dynamic and memorable. People tend to remember your brand much better if you are dynamic, flexible, and creative.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
– Do you live in a climate that promotes change and variety? If not, stay extra vigilant in exercising your creative side. Try painting, writing poetry or fiction, or singing.
– Where in your life are you stagnating and not open to change or growth? What’s one simple change you can make to today?
In Part III of my four-part series on Brand Stagnation, let’s chat about stagnation of our personal brands within our friendships. As a recap of “why” this series, I’ve been thinking a lot about brand stagnation lately. It just so happened that so has Oprah!
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. For four weeks, 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’ in the branding world.
So what is Stagnation of your brand within the context of your friendships? Well, these days the word, “friendship” has an entirely different meaning to us all. We have so many “friends” virtually that we seem to have lost the concept of real, dynamic, non-stagnate friendships.
I have lots of Facebook friends and many more people who want to be my Facebook friend whom I have not “accepted” as friends because I don’t know them- at all. While I appreciate that these unknown wanna-be-friends are out there, I’d rather have a cup of coffee with each of them and then “accept” them as friends- on Facebook or in person.
I used to get all out of sorts over my Facebook friends. I would think to myself that I should “accept” all these friends or the world would think I am not loved and don’t have enough friends. Perhaps this would be a sign that I’m not running a good enough/successful enough business if I don’t have enough friends and “likes” on Facebook? I would start to hyperventilate (sort of) and couldn’t focus on my work. How dumb of me! At some point, I stepped back and decided I had gotten sucked into the virtual friendship hole of mis-perceptions that feeds our low self-confidence levels. I couldn’t let Facebook drive my confidence down!!
I think of it as this- I don’t need so many friends all over the place, just friends to whom I provide the same level of connection that I would want back for myself from a friend. This means quality, not quantity for me. And if someone chooses not to do business with me because of the number of my “likes”, “Facebook friends” or LinkedIn Connections, then so be it! I can’t afford to be a half-way friend and risk my brand connection- more does not equal dynamic brand quality. The more virtual friends, the more I found that my brand connection to them stagnated.
So how dynamic are you as a Facebook or real friend? How far would you go to be a “good” friend (whatever you define as “good”)? Does your personal brand shine as a friend or is it dull and stagnate?
A good test of this concept is the following: next time your friend makes a request of you, stop and think to yourself “how would I want my friend to respond if I was the one making such a request?” If you wouldn’t want it done to you, then think twice- your brand is not coming through and your friendship may have stagnated.
Another good test is to consider your friends circle- did you really “pick” them as friends or not? Same test could apply to your friends who are family- would you be friends with your siblings if they weren’t your siblings? Why or why not? Be honest…that’s how you get to a dynamic brand with your friends.