Last month marked the 11-year anniversary of my dad’s death. He was 63 and had been battling cancer for a few years. The last few days of his life were a roller coaster for me and my family. When the doctor gave us the news that it would happen soon, my mother, sisters, and I pretty much lived at the hospital. On the evening of July 25, 2002, sitting by his hospital bed, I watched him take his last breath. It was a surreal experience for me. I was a little down, but wasn’t sad. If I was emotional, it was because my mother and sisters were. I just kind of sat there, supporting my family, and soaking it all in. Though it was an unfortunate event, I wasn’t shocked. To be totally honest, I was surprised it didn’t happen sooner than it did. See, my dad died when I was 24, and for the first 21 years of my life, he was a heavy smoker and hard-core alcoholic. In my mind, this was the logical outcome of his actions and lifestyle, as was my lack of emotion.
He was very active with me when I was little, taught me how to catch a football, and made it to all of my games. But the memories that are burned into my head and the legacy he left with me is the heavy smoker and hard-core alcoholic who treated his wife and family like crap and was hammered every Christmas.
That is my father’s brand.
If you had the opportunity to interview people around you to find out “who you are,” what would they say? What words would they use to describe you? What kind of person would they say you are? Everything you say and do builds your brand.
You hear a lot about branding in the business world. Major organizations like Pepsi, Coke, Nike, McDonald’s, Target, and Walmart give a great deal of attention and spend a ton of money building and preserving their brands. They know consistent branding that associates them with positive things is the key to their success.
Guess what? It’s the key to your success, too!
When helping people articulate and develop their personal brand, I coach them to consider two things:
You want your brand to be an honest and genuine reflection of you: what’s in your head and what’s in your heart. If it isn’t an honest and genuine reflection of you, you aren’t being true to yourself and likely setting yourself up for failure.
For example: I wear my emotions and spirit “on my sleeve.” From the time I was 24, I knew I wanted to spend my life coaching, counseling, speaking, teaching, and/or training. It is extremely important to me (values) that I am providing value to those around me and there is nothing more exciting to me (passion) than working with people and helping them reach their goals. Throughout this journey I’ve tried to do other things, conform to others’ expectations, and show-up a different way, and it doesn’t work.
Being more intentional with your personal brand provides great opportunity, but can also be risky.
When you’re living your life in alignment with your values and passions, you naturally become more confident, and people notice. They might not be sure what to think at first, but the more honest, genuine, and consistent you are, the more they will trust you. The more honest, genuine, and consistent you are, the greater impact you will have on the people and environments around you. Take a look around you. The average person deals with enough uncertainty, confusion, and insecurity. Your consistency will give them certainty, consistency, and confidence in you.
For all the great opportunities that being more intentional with your personal brand can give, there are also some risks. There will be some haters. There will people who are close to you who are used to you being a certain way. They will see you changing and growing, and they won’t like it. Now, if you are changing, growing, and becoming a more confident person and they don’t like it, that should be a sign of whether or not you want them in your life. Just know “haters gonna hate.” Another risk is that this takes commitment. If you are not willing to make a real commitment to your personal brand, you might want to slow down. It goes back to the uncertainty, confusion, and insecurity I referenced above. People have enough of that in their lives. There are a lot of big talkers out there. If you try to show up, but don’t live your brand or are inconsistent, you are just going to be another example of uncertainty, confusion, and insecurity in their mind. Once you are there, that is a tough hole to climb out of.
Your personal brand really comes down to how you want to show up in the world and the impact you want to have.
If you are not living your life in alignment with that answer, it might be time to evaluate your personal brand.
Your values and passions are a great place to start!
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