- Who & Why?
Category Archive for: ‘thoughts’
October kicks off the month of “Deliberate Brand Creation” for us. Fall is in the air- time for change and growth as nature deliberately changes shades and seasons.
Once again, this month’s topic is inspired by Oprah’s October 2014, “What I Know For Sure” column in her O Magazine. As I’ve said in the past, I have a lot of appreciation and respect for Oprah’s presence in this world. So I really loved her topic this month and want to put my spin on it and apply it to personal branding to find that “sparkle of rightness” for all of us.
In her October column, Oprah notes that she likes to spend time alone, being alone with her thoughts. She notes that she craves silence and stillness to offset her crazy schedule, where she can’t always be fully present.
This got me really thinking. How often are we really ever alone (versus “lonely”)?
The word, “lonely” is such a sad word. Let’s face it, no one wants to be “lonely”. I’ve been there and still go there, because I’m human! Being lonely used to feel way more natural for me than being “alone”. I know I’m heading to a dark, ugly place when I feel “lonely”. It gives me the chance to have a pity party for myself and be a victim. Claiming, “I’m lonely” means I “don’t have” lots of things: friends, a supportive spouse and/or family, and happiness! Of course, I do have all those things- if I stopped being a victim long enough to notice.
Even when I don’t feel “lonely”, I often avoid being “alone” by creating t0-do lists for myself. My lists and errands ensure I am always running full steam ahead and can avoid being present. But let’s face it, at the end of the day these lists and errands leave me tired, cranky and wondering where did my day (and peace) go? I must admit, I’ve gotten so much better at being alone over the years. It started with short meditations, but now I find I drive around without the radio on in my car because I enjoy the silence. It allows me to hear my own inner voice and relax.
There’s no power in being lonely. There’s just a lot of scarcity and “don’t have”. It also means we’ve created a very unattractive personal brand when we are “lonely”. No one wants to be around someone who is lonely. We subconsciously assume if you’re lonely, then you are needy, too. Makes sense to me. I know when I’m lonely, I tend to be needy and rather illogical in my actions as a result. Who wants to be around someone whose personal brand is lonely,needy and illogical? Yikes!
On the other hand, as Oprah finds,there is such power in being alone with our thoughts. Choosing to be “alone” is attractive in so many ways as a personal brand. By choosing to be alone as a personal brand, you are saying:
– I am strong and know what I need;
– I don’t have to be around others to feel better and feel loved;
– I want to be (and can handle being) alone with my thoughts;
– I am a creative person who knows how to independently create;
– I am in control of my life and my career because I take time to be fully present and still.
So ask yourself:
– How often do you sit still and be alone with yourself and your thoughts?
– Why or why not? If you don’t do so very often, what about being alone scares you- the loneliness or the fabulous possibilities that may come from sitting still?
Here’s an interesting thought for you to consider: what if you don’t have to choose one or the other? What if you can be happy and as successful as you want/think you can be? Does that sound radical and crazy, or totally possible to you?
The truth is we often believe we have to be accomplished and get to the “top” then we can finally be happy. I know, and work with, many accomplished people who are not happy. So I’ve found that we have it backwards: We first need to be happy, then and only then, we can be successful, however you define your own success.
I was a happy, practicing lawyer until I realized that we didn’t have the best image as lawyers. I became fascinated with this issue and wanted to turn it around for lawyers. I also then realized that my natural gift was in personal brand management- that’s what makes me happy as a human- and guess what else? It also makes me successful, too.
Here’s the dilemma. I’ve discovered most of us don’t even stop and consider this distinction, let alone get to the possibility of “having it all” by being happy and successful. I believe it is because we have developed by being conditioned by society (your family, friends, etc.) to THINK this way.
I believe that if we started being aware of our thoughts; we could then be more in control of all our thoughts and in control of our happiness and our success and thus- our lives. This sense of control could and should be liberating- you would then have a focal point behind which to put your energy. And of course, a self-aware person is an effective personal brand.
To help show us how to be more aware of our thoughts with the right tools, I recently had the privilege and honor to interview the great Byron Katie (Katie, as she prefers to be called). In brief, Katie believes your thoughts are the cause of your suffering.
It was in the late 1980s when Katie experienced this belief first-hand. Katie is a best-selling author of numerous books. She has helped millions of people over the years and continues to do so with her process of self-inquiry called, The Work. The Work applies to all people alike. So how can it help you? To answer this question, let me ask another question: does the notion of looking at your thoughts seem scary, perhaps? If so, you’re not alone.
Katie has been quoted as saying, “[w]hen we are not fearful, we are unlimited”. I wholeheartedly believe in this. How often do you find yourself stuck and almost paralyzed by a sense of fear? My hope is you have the self-awareness to stop and notice. I remember how scared and stuck I was when I was initially leaving the practice of law. I often had dreams where everyone was swimming in a pool and I was standing there watching them- I wanted to get in but literally couldn’t move. Those nasty and telling dreams tapered off and gradually stopped once I worked to get past my fears and really embrace my unlimited nature and new career.
I believe when we are not trapped in fear then we can be so much more effective and kind and successful at anything we chose to focus on. This is an abundance mind-set. As I always say, when we know our uniqueness, then there is no competition, but collaboration. Being able to find your uniqueness rests in feeling abundant mentally, fearless and unlimited.
Katie has also found, “[w]hen people take a fearful or rigid stance, they often bring about what they are trying to prevent.” The bottom line is our thoughts lead to our suffering. Katie says we always prepare for winning and losing in our minds. We put so much upon ourselves to win and be right and be a success.
So our thoughts can be stressful and torture, if we believe them. However, listening to our thoughts and being aware ultimately makes us kinder and less aggressive. We are then more aware of all the possible solutions to our problems that we perhaps weren’t aware of before we actually sat still and allowed our own knowledge to flow through and guide us.
When I first started to do The Work, I remember how disgusted and shocked I was with my thoughts. How could it be, I used to think (and still do, but less!), that I am thinking this self-defeating thought?
In fact, The Work is actually meditative in application. But are you open to meditation and sitting still? Or are you stuck in your own ways and can’t even consider anything new to try? Is it just “fluff” to sit still and be with your thoughts? Or is it just too scary?
In actuality I believe, and know to be true, that being self-aware/self-realized makes you: 1) a better person: more positive, more grateful and happy AND 2) even a greater force in other areas in which you want to succeed. The more I practice self-awareness the more I relate to others and find gratitude each day. This is particularly true for my second career- I find I am so much more “in the flow”, in harmony with my ultimate purpose and on the path to big, big things.
So I asked Katie, how can we move past our self-limiting blocks and patterns using The Work, thus trying new methods and being open to methods that may seem like “fluff”? Katie believes if we believe it is fluff, it could cost us something that could really expand and grow us as people. After all, we can’t know for sure that The Work, or any other process, is fluff without trying it. If we don’t try, then the door is shut to new ways and ideas and really, creativity as I see it. So Katie’s advice is to stay open to The Work, stating, “[y]ou don’t have to do it now, but there could be a time in your life when you need it and want to do it. …. We hold all the power to make changes in our lives.”
Here’s another reason to try The Work or some other way of growing. I have found through my research that everyone suffers from some sort of self-confidence issue. My research shows that low self-confidence is directly inversely related to high stress. When we have low self-confidence we have a poor personal brand that doesn’t “sell” us.
My research shows we often end up comparing ourselves to others, perhaps feeling victimized and even like an outcast. To make ourselves feel better, we project how we feel outward onto others so that they are the problem or the cause for our sorry situation. All this rings of a low self-confidence issue, which is true for all humans in one way or another. I know for a fact that every time I sink into low self confidence, everyone around me is well aware of this shift- they may not consciously know so, but so much of what I’m talking about is subconscious processing of information.
In one of her books, Katie states that we all have this unspoken belief that unless people approve of us, we are worthless. Katie also says that defending anything is the first act of “war” or a war-like mental state of aggression. It seems like this is exactly one of our challenges that can hold us back – many times we feel worthless and go into self-defense mode.
So how can we apply The Work to not compare, not defend and have higher self-confidence?
Katie finds that when we feel low in self-confidence, then that low self-confidence is what we think we have to sell. In that instance, we don’t like ourselves, and we don’t expect others to like us. As a result, we can’t attract anyone. If we didn’t defend ourselves and looked at constructive criticism with an open mind, then maybe we’d learn something about ourselves that we may have missed. In that way, we could also connect with another person. Katie holds that every time a person does The Work, they come out as a kinder, caring, enlightened, fearless person, which reeks of high self-confidence because we are on solid ground and we are not defending ourselves to the world.
So where should you start, you ask?
Katie recommends we fit The Work in gradually by perhaps getting up a little bit earlier than the rest of our household each morning, getting quiet and getting still to sort life out. Katie recommends doing so in the early morning because in the mornings our minds are clear before the world bombards them. Even 20 minutes a day helps.
Katie advices that this is not just one more thing on your list- you DO NOT have to do this. But, Katie promises, if you try it, you will have such a shift in your mindset and ability to produce results. To me those “results” are being happy and successful.
I myself am a testament to this process. For years now, I prescribe to “slow start” mornings. I get up early, work out and then spend at least 30 minutes sitting still and focusing inside. Years ago I heard Richard Branson does the same- so I kept it up. I figured he must be doing something right and this just felt like one of those things to keep doing. It brings me so much calmness and clarity every morning. Plus I have something to look forward to every morning.
What should you do in the 20 minutes? Katie recommends you close your eyes and contemplate a thought that you have that is stressing you. This will allow you to get clarity on the issue and how you feel and view it. Katie says that doing this will change the way you see everything for the rest of your life. I totally agree, as I have been doing The Work for some time now in addition to my slow morning routine.
Will it be do-able? Well Katie advices that you just try it on with an open mind. Even if it is hard, be gentle and kind to yourself. As Katie put it, it is all about your own world peace. I agree. I find that it is our job to take care of our peace in this world so we can be of service to others.
As Katie says, doing The Work will sharpen our observations and leave us in balance. Who wouldn’t want that?
For my full audio interview and highlight video with Byron Katie see here: www.purispersonalbranding.com
The full video version should be available through Byron Katie’s website, www.thework.com soon. For inquiries regarding the video, please contact that site.
Ever stop to think about how much your thoughts shape your world? Most of us tend to never even stop and think about our thoughts. We are too busy doing our “thing” in life.
Consider the fact that on the Internet I read we have anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day. How in control of your thoughts are you? Do you think it matters to the overall scheme of your life- to make money, get rich, retire wealthy and then finally “be happy”?
In this post, I ask you to consider that your thoughts impact your everyday behavior and interactions with others. As such, your thoughts impact your personal brand tremendously.
For instance, if you are running around like crazy because you have so much on your “to-do” list, the odds are you have random (and maybe not so random) thoughts flying through your head. If you never stop to assess the situation here’s what we likely see- a frantic, out of control, less-than credible person running around trying to get their life in control. On top of it all, odds are you are likely cranky or unhappy- with friends, family, colleagues, with yourself and with the world.
So try this challenge on for size: For an entire day try to be as aware as you can of every thought you have. Then quickly assess: if you met someone who didn’t know you, would they want to get to know you and then hire you based on your thoughts? Put yourself in our shoes and try to imagine what we all see when you are “thinking” and running around. Is it a personal brand you want to own?
For more on this topic, stay tuned for my interview with Byron Katie on June 19, 2014.
As I look around, so many clients within corporations struggle with being an effective leader. As we work together to evolve their personal brands into ones that lead well, I discover a big set back for those aspiring to leadership roles. This same set-back applies to anyone wanting to lead anything- not just in corporate America. So if you are a lawyer, financial adviser or rock star, the same applies.
People don’t really know, or intuitively “get”, what an optimal leader looks like. How can we expect them to be optimal and promotable, if they don’t know what that means for them? My task is to collaborate and evolve you into a visionary thought-leader so that others can see you as creative and thus, want to follow you. First, you have to increase your self-confidence, reduce your stress and take responsibility. If you are a CEO, that means you are responsible for your team. If you are a rock star, that means you are responsible to carry your message well to your fan base.
People often assume that leading means talking and giving marching orders. Far from it, I’ve found. I find too many clients wanting to talk, advise and be seen and heard- all the time.
A strong personal brand of a leader is harnessed by being supportive, and NOT aggressive. Think of yourself as a champion of others. What would that look like practically? Well, ideally you would be talking less (in meetings or on stage) because you would see yourself as the “big idea” person, ie, visionary, as the leader. Leaders don’t have to be espousing wisdom all the time- just putting in their advice and support to create the big picture, motivating their team/fans to execution of the big picture, and providing course corrections along the way.
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider, when given leadership opportunities ANYWHERE in your life:
- Do you offer support to others?
- Are you the champion of the entire process or stuck in the details, like others?
- Can you control the urge to talk and be heard, instead of sitting back, talking at optimal moments and watching your vision evolve and grow at the hands of able others you have put into place?
- Do you put your ego aside as best you can, alway?
I was listening to a Sunday service yesterday where the lecturer was talking about how nice it is that our thoughts are not projected out loud. Then she asked a question that made me laugh, but also made me think about the personal branding work we do. She asked us if we often show our thoughts externally to others.
So I started thinking. How often do you walk down the street and see people reflecting their thoughts to us all? Some people mumble their thoughts out loud for us to hear. Others literally show up in life visually reflecting their thoughts- for good or for bad.
You may ask, “How do they do this?” There are so many ways, but let’s just take one- our eyes. The eyes are the gateway to the soul, they say. So how often do your eyes tell us exactly what you are thinking?
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago. It was boring and the people were acting in a way with which I completely disagreed. Apparently, I was “thinking” out loud through my eyes. One of my colleagues was gracious enough to lean over and tell me she was reading my discontent through my eyes. I was so grateful for the feedback. I immediately fixed the problem: not only did I change my gaze, but I changed my thoughts regarding the meeting. That’s the only way it would work.
Because I had changed my perception and thoughts about the meeting, I was able to change my gaze, posture and entire outlook regarding the meeting and the participants. After that, any thoughts that you read via my eyes and “being” were fabulous for my personal brand because I was happy, engaged and a willing participant.
So next time you believe you are keeping your thoughts and opinions to yourself, look again. Are you really keeping your thoughts private or are you reflecting your thoughts externally to us all? In order to resonate joyfully with your audience (ie, the world) and have a fabulous personal brand, watch your:
-thoughts, above all else
-intonation (vocal, email, text)