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As the seasons continue to shift deliberately this October, we continue our Deliberate Brand Creation this week. As I said last week, I’m putting my own spin on 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.
This week, let’s explore how being genuine or “real” about who you are is such a big part of your deliberate brand creation. I like to call it “owning” who you are.
I am not a fan of labeling people as introverts or extroverts. However, once I read Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet”, I became a fan of the concept of introverts and extroverts. Let’s explore these concepts with your brand.
As Oprah said in her October column, when she was younger she used to go to parties even when she didn’t want to be there because she didn’t want to miss anything. As I’ve often said, this desire to be at a party or to run home could be a function of who you are as an extrovert or introvert.
I suppose I am what you would call an extrovert. I get energy from those parties and enjoy being there meeting new people. I know it and can count on it most often.
As Cain explains, it is natural for extroverts to want to stay at the party and get energy from being there. However, the introvert would want to fly out of the party and head home to be alone.
Neither is right nor wrong. The point is you need to know what works for you. If you are an introvert and you force yourself to stay at that party, then there are issues to deal with as a result. Not only will you be miserable, but your personal brand will be poor, as well. If you ain’t happy, no one else will want to be around you at the party, either.
Why would you want to do that to yourself and others? I suppose it is because we compare. An introvert will look around at the party and see the extroverts having “fun”. The introvert will assume something is “wrong” with him/her because she is not having fun. In order to fit it, the introvert stays at the party- stays miserable.
As an extrovert, I can actually say I’ve walked in the introvert’s shoes at some parties. There have been plenty of times when I haven’t wanted to be somewhere but forced myself to go. Each time I did so, I paid the price: my confidence was low, my stress was high, I was bitter and angry at myself and thus, bitter and unfriendly to others at the party. It was awful and so was my brand. I suppose I assumed that just because I am an extrovert, I should WANT to be there. People expect it of me, right? Wrong! I wasn’t being real and “owning” myself in those moments.
So stop and ask yourself, how well do you “own” your tendencies as an extrovert or introvert? Once you can “own” it for what it is and who YOU are, then you are well on you way of creating a deliberate brand that is real, genuine and attracts people naturally to you.
Today we come to the final blog in a four- part series in which we look at the different ways we all stagnate; in business, in friendship, in family and in our spirituality.
As I said in all three of the other blog posts, 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.
So I took her topic post and went deeper, looking at it from one of my viewpoints. This method is how I decide what is the next best area that ‘sparkles with rightness’.
So what the heck do I mean when I say, “stagnation in your spiritual life”? Most of us avoid the topic of spirituality for similar reasons. We don’t want to be seen as tree huggers, fluffy, not taken seriously or perceived as not credible.
The list goes on and on. But if we are not even addressing our spiritual life, then how could it stagnate and impact our brand value poorly!?
I’ve found the main reason we don’t venture into our spiritual life is because of fear. This fear triggers all the reasons/excuses I listed above.
I know I personally was afraid for a long time. At first, I was afraid of looking at the concept of spirituality in my life. The definition of spirituality is different for everyone, as it should be.
I got over that fear as I evolved and changed careers from law to brand management. In fact, my spirituality and growth as a human was what helped me transition careers and be stable.
But my fear did not end there. Now that I was finding my spirituality, I found that I feared sharing what I learned and knew with my clients. In other words, I was afraid my business audience and clientele would not take me seriously if I wasn’t just talking to them about using their brand to get business and sell themselves well. I was afraid of not being taken seriously and seen as fluffy and nutty, I dare say.
Then one day not too long ago, I just got tired of flying under the radar and bringing ‘stealth spirituality’ to my work and clients. I got that I was stagnating in my message and purpose as a personal branding expert. I was only sharing and giving up half of what I knew. It wasn’t fair to me – I wasn’t self-expressed. It certainly wasn’t fair to my audience.
Since my “awakening”, I have started sharing my personal branding expertise and know-how completely differently with my audience. I share from the heart and share from my own experiences and issues. I’ve found they are applicable to everyone somehow, so everyone can relate and learn and grow and also teach me something new!
What does this mean for you? Stop and think:
- What areas of your life are you afraid to look at? Why?
- Where are you stagnating as a result of this fear?
- How can you take one small step today to be dynamic in your entire life and personal brand? What would be possible as a result of that one small change?
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.
If you recall from last week’s post, this is part two of or my four-part posting regarding stagnation in all areas of our lives. As I said last week, I have Oprah as motivation and inspiration for these posts on stagnation.
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. 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’.
So last week we chatted about stagnation in our business lives. This week, let’s chat about how we tend to stagnate in our family life. For most of us, we are so busy that we tend to put our family lives last.
I know that for me, it takes constant and chronic effort to put my family first- or at least not last! I am somewhat embarrassed to admit it, but I have to “work” daily to overcome this nasty mentality (and I mean “nasty” because it never serves me well!) that my husband and family will just love me and understand me, and thus forgive me, if I’m (fill in the blank). The fill-in-the-blank ranges anything from “tired” to “short” to “mad” to “sad”.
One day I had an “ah-ha” moment and realized what I was doing. It was not pretty and it was rather shocking, I must admit. Since that day, I always have to force myself and stop and think, “is this fair to these people that I love?” The answer is always a resounding “no”. Just because people love me and will put up with me in the short term, doesn’t mean I can assume they will do so forever.
Long story, short: thinking your family will always be there and put up with you makes for a very unattractive personal brand in your entire personal life. Pretty soon, if we keep it up we will find ourselves all alone. Either that, or everyone walks on egg-shells around us and starts to whisper around us. They may as well be saying, “don’t disturb the nutty relative”.
If you can’t bring yourself to revive your stagnating personal brand in your family life, consider the impact it has on your business life. Anything you do poorly by way of a personal brand at home with your family follows you to work each and every day. I promise you this. I know when I have had a poor brand at home, it always impacts my work the next day. I then have to exercise a tremendous amount of self-awareness and control to reverse the impact.
Again, change is hard. No question about it. Change is also a bit nauseating, I have found. It is really hard for me to stop and take a long, hard look at my nasty ways at home. I have done so many times and let me tell you it is well worth the pay-off long term. It definitely takes courage.
So consider for yourself whether you have a dull and stagnate personal brand with your family:
-Have you stopped lately to notice how you come across to your family? If not, why not?
-What could possibly be the benefit of not bothering to change at home with your family?
- How can you take better care of yourself in order to feel better about yourself and pass that brand on in your interactions with your family? Perhaps you can try eating better, exercising more and sleeping a bit more each night.
- What is one action you can take to remind yourself to be self-aware of your brand around your family?
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.