- Who & Why?
My life has gotten way easier over the last several years. In particular, my relationships have become much more fun and easy.
It used to be that if I scheduled time together with a friend or colleague, I had lots of expectations of them: I expected them to be on time, I expected them to entertain me, I expected them to be amused by me, etc. The list was long. In fact, the list was so long, it always left me disappointed. Why?
Because my friends and colleagues never lived up to my expectations of them. How could they? After all, I never once conveyed what I expected. Nor did I do anything to make sure my expectations manifested. I never once told a friend that I expected them to show up on time and to be fun to be around. But I expected them to just know what I expected- like they could read my mind.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Expectations lead to nasty results. When we have certain expectations in our lives, two results happen:
- We become James Bond-ish- we never convey our expectations to others, ensuring that our expectations remain the best kept secret ever. How stealth of us.
- We get lazy– we take absolutely no action personally to make sure our expectations become our reality.
This is the perfect lazy brew for disaster: “You should know what I expect and I’m not going to take responsibility for my own expectations. Ever. It’s all on you to make me happy”.
So how did I manage to turn things around for myself after years of suffering (poor me!) with friends and colleagues who never delivered on my expectations?
I started to set intentions, instead of expectations. In my mind, intentions are very different than expectations. Intentions are about me choosing how my life will go. Intentions keep me in my personal power and that’s an attractive brand. Intentions are grounded in reality and always include:
- A plan– I decide what I want to happen in all of my interactions with others and with myself. I then plan for it to make sure it happens.
- Responsibility– I take responsibility for life working out for me, my way. No one else gets the blame. No one else gets the rewards.
What does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- What expectations do you have of others and yourself in 2016?
- Where are those expectations going to fail you and leave you with an unhappy and less than optimal brand?
- How can you set about turning those expectations around so your brand shines- what intentions can you set, instead, that will leave you in your personal power and control of your life and brand in 2016?
It’s January and it seems lots of us are goal setting. I remember setting goals. It was just awful. I was always at a loss for what goals to set. I had all sorts of thoughts swirling in my head, like: Should I aim for lofty goals or manageable goals? What if I failed at achieving my goals? Did I have to share my goals with my team/boss? How much faith was I supposed to have in my goals being “good”? What if my goals didn’t feel real for me- was that ok?
And on and on and on it went….just like a bad movie that never ended.
Until one day when I stopped setting goals. Here’s why.
Setting goals does two things:
1) You don’t achieve your goal and so you feel like a failure. Great. Just what you wanted, right?
2) You don’t achieve your goal because it wasn’t your goal in the first place. Your boss and/or team insisted on you setting goals. So you put down something that has no meaning or passion for you and you obviously don’t achieve it. Failure again.
Instead of goal setting, I decided to focus on stories and outcomes that made me happy. Why?
In my formal and informal research findings, I’ve discovered the higher your stress, the lower your self-confidence. The lower your self-confidence, the less your brand emotionally resonates with me and the less effective your brand. So why would I set goals if they cause me stress and reduce my self-confidence and emotional brand resonance?
Instead, I now envision what I want to happen and write the story of how it will play out. I encourage all my clients to do the same. This method puts you in control of your life and restores your personal power and creative vision for yourself. It’s also just fun to have a blank canvas on which to create your future- as you want to have it happen. It nicely follows my blog regarding how you want to be remembered.
What does this mean for you? Sit down with a blank screen. Ask yourself the following questions and start creating your 2016:
- What one or two things do you see yourself doing really well in 2016? It can be personal or business. Write it down and also write down why you do these one or two things well in 2016? These should be things that bring you true joy in your life. Don’t hold back.
- What kind of work do you want to do in 2016? Be specific. Type out all the details.
- What type of clients and colleagues do you want to work with? Again, specific details create results.
- How many hours per week do you want to work and play? Why? Write it all out.
- Do you want to relocate in 2016? If so, are you changing homes or cities or states or maybe even moving to a new country? Why? Write as much detail as you can.
- What are you going to do JUST for yourself in 2016? Why? With Whom? Creative use of our right-brain makes for great brands.
Don’t hold back. No one is going to read this but you. If at first this is too hard and you start to get twitchy, that’s great! You’re on to something. Keep writing. You’ll know when you are done.
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.
In Part I of this blog, we discussed the concept of signal versus noise and the questions to think about when you are seeking branding collaborative advice. Today, let’s look at what you can do to use noise to make sure your brand shines.
Growing up, I used to get frustrated when I was trying to communicate, what I felt was, a really important point. Someone would come along and interrupt me and start talking about a useless topic. I felt like I had to defend myself and my topic by getting louder and yelling. I was skinny and small and my front two teeth were missing for a couple of years (felt like an eternity). So who was going to take this little girl seriously? I felt brand-less!
As you probably guessed, my yelling never worked well. The person interrupting me (noise) drowned out my message and specialness (signal). Looking back, what I think I was missing was a way to really distinguish myself from the noise of the situation.
I see many professionals do the same things with their branding. They are trying to compete with the noise. What if instead, you chose to not compete with the noise? What if you instead stuck to your signal and message and really differentiated your brand?
How, you ask? Here’s what to avoid:
1. Talk about what you do for a living– while what you do for a living is important, it is not competitive, necessarily. In other words, everyone can tell us what a fantastic lawyer, dentist, (fill-in-the-blank professional) they are. Who cares? At the end of the day, we know you can get the job done. Don’t bore me with the “hows” until I ask. If you do, you just become part of the noise.
2. Thinking you’re not interesting as a person– most of us assume our boring lives are just that– boring. Why would others care about our stories of childhood, triumphs or failures? Don’t they want to hire us purely for our substantive know-how? I hear so many clients say this. Guess what? They all have personal stories that fascinate me. Let your audience be the judge as to how interesting you are as a person. Don’t fall for the trap. Don’t become part of the noise. Be the signal. Tell me about your personal stories.
3. Let your ego rule– Our ego plays games with us during our highs (“I’m so fantastic and smarter than others, I just beat out 3 other people for a high-paying job”) and our lows (“I am the worst lawyer, dentist, financial adviser, human in the world. I can’t seem to get prospects to become my fans and hire me. I stink”). Anytime you let your ego run away with your thoughts during your highs or your lows, your giving in to the noise and forgetting about your true signal. Your true signal is that you are a unique and fabulous human worthy of the best. You’re a top-notch brand. End of story.
If any part of this worked for you, please share this post with others and be a contribution to them!
Ah the holidays are here. That time of fun and frolic. And madness. You may be a rare bird like me who really enjoys the holidays. However, you may be like the majority of the population and have deep angst around the holidays. This isn’t a blog about therapy, so we won’t delve into what your issues may involve (ie, family). For that, I highly recommend we all regularly see a licensed and qualified counselor who can hear us out and offer support and guidance.
Whatever your angst around holiday time, one thing is for sure: if we can master our own internal control regulator, we will be a much happier and effective brand.
Looking back, as a kid growing up in Indiana, I guess I always loved the holidays. It was festive, fun, filled with sugary foods and lights. Plus, I just adored everything Santa related. I still recall my world crumbling when I found out the truth about Santa. But the holidays were, and still are, filled with one more thing: frantic, hurried rushing.
As a practicing attorney, I often felt at a loss around the holidays because of the time factor. Not only did the work load not get less, but the holiday festivities (aka “obligatons”) became more! How was my brand to survive November and December?!
Long ago, I took a hard look deep inside and realized it was all up to me. You see, it’s all about control. I realized that I was desperately trying to control my life and everyone else around me to survive. The end result got me the exact opposite of what I wanted: a crazy brand where others saw a lunatic AND I never enjoyed it.
One of my staff members said it just the other day- she’s overwhelmed with her volunteer obligations during the holidays. I asked her why she doesn’t ask for other volunteers to help her out. She flat out said it’s because she likes to be in control. Let’s give it up for her deep self-awareness and honesty. She gets a gold star in my world for sure.
The next step to help her brand out would be to do something about the need to control. It clearly didn’t leave her with a happy and effective brand. How?
Here are my top three tips for keeping your brand in tip top shape during the holidays:
- Lookie, Lookie– We can’t control anything except ourselves. So take a deep and honest look at what I call your internal control regulator. How much are you “in control” of your life? That of others? Is it really working for you and your brand or are you fooling yourself? How to know, you ask? Are you happy with yourself? If not, then it’s time to consider choosing to look at your life differently.
- Give It Up– You really can’t do it all by yourself. If you think you can, just know you won’t do it well by yourself. If you got some help, then perhaps things would get done better AND you would be happier with a better brand. More importantly, why do you think you can do it all better than others? What happened in your life that set your internal control regulator so high and led you to want to control everything external, too? If this question makes you squirm, that’s wonderful. Stay with it and squirm until you find an answer.
- Be Curious– If nothing I say even remotely makes you want to take a look inside yourself, why is that? Ignorant brands are failing brands. No question about it.