Brands are everywhere around us; in the magazines, we read, on the internet, billboards, or the bus with an Ad on its side as we wait to cross the street. Companies spend millions identifying their personal brand and even greater on developing it over time for how they wish to be perceived to the outside world. But the question today is not what you see in the outside world, but what do you see when you’re standing in front of a mirror, what is the brand associated with the face staring back at you? Is it one of accountability, is it one that motivates you and the others around you, or is it a brand of negativity, a brand that drains you and those around you. If it is the latter, then it is not too late to make a change.
A personal brand is your calling card to the outside world, it’s your reputation and the impression you leave on the minds of everyone you interact with. A common misconception is that personal branding is for those in the business or political landscape. But whether you are in the boardroom, the operating room, or the living room; your brand matters and what you stand for matters. Other articles related to Branding will suggest a path of identifying “why” you do it, your top qualities, your values, what you are recognized for and use this to develop yourself. There are many paths to personal branding but the one I would like to focus on is one of personal growth.
A phrase made popular by Simon Sinek is, “People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it”. This is evident in the success of certain companies such as Apple whose brand is Innovation or Amazon whose brand is customer obsession. These organizations have made their “why” their brand, their purpose. In order to take what they have done and apply it to our-selves, I believe we have to start a step further back and make “who” we are our brand. Identify who you are and what you stand for. Because if you don’t know who you are, then others will ascribe something you are not, for you.
If your Brand is built on why you do it, your “Why” becomes your motivator, that will help push you when you’re tired, when you’re hungry, or when you fail. If you identify “Who” you are, then it will give you the discipline to get through all those same circumstances because who you are can be as simple as someone who doesn’t give up, someone who doesn’t quit. Discipline, in my opinion, beats motivation every single time, whether it is getting up one hour earlier to work out or working one hour later to get that project completed. If your brand is built upon discipline, it’s another aspect you bring under your own control. While motivation is mostly external on how you feel or drawn from inspiration, discipline is driven through our own willpower and sweat equity in being consistent.
If you’re looking for an example, one person whose brand is synonymous with discipline is Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, who he is, and his brand is being the hardest worker in the room. Through discipline he accomplishes his goals, through discipline he gets up at 4 am to push through the workouts. Through discipline, your brand will add the characteristics of authenticity since you must be honest with yourself every day to get through the tasks we don’t like to do and being accountable to ourselves. Bring discipline into your life.
Next question to ask your self is, what are you passionate about? Is it about learning something new every day? being a lifelong student of life; Or is it about empowering and helping others as a leader or educator? Passion will help your brand stand out against the tide, it is the differentiator between who you are vs. what you do. Galileo Galilei once said, “Passion is the genesis of genius”. When you speak about something you are passionate about it tends to ooze out of you when you are doing something you are passionate about, it becomes an obsession, time becomes inconsequential. Find out the things you love the most and write them down. Bring passion into your life.
My old high school motto and a famous quote of Socrates is “know thy self”, which is not the easiest thing to do sometimes. Who we are is a complex answer which includes but not limited to: our values, interests, strengths and our purpose. Somewhere deep down inside, everyone knows who they are and supposed to be but it’s not always easy to bring to the surface. Start with a simple question of -How the person I would like to be, do what I am about to do? Develop a sense of purpose to succeed or to achieve which can be a goal or a state of mind and associate that with who you are.
An example of someone with great purpose who emulated who she is with her brand was Maya Angelou. Her mission in life was “…not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”. She dedicated her life to creating great literary works, to expand our perception of the world and bring forth thought-provoking dialogue. It does not matter if you want to be a leader, or a healer, an innovator, or a fighter, your purpose is what will develop the internal dialogue required to push through the distractions and the external conflicts. Bring purpose into your brand.
If you have been staring back at that face every morning and saying one day I will make a change, one day I will get up early, or stay up late, then turn that one day into Day One. Be a brand that you are proud of, be a brand that you can put your name behind. If you can combine your passion with your purpose, then discipline will see you through to the finish line. There is no outside company you can hire to come in and develop your brand for you and do your marketing for you. You are your own research and development team, your own implementation manager; your own marketing department and today is your first day on the job.
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