The Man in the Arena, an excerpt from the speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” in Paris, France, 2010 was delivered by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. The following words of inspiration can serve as a virtual kick in the butt for those who are sitting on the sidelines as spectators, or, for those leaders in positions of power and control that spend time talking and blaming, rather rolling up their sleeves, getting the job done.
Impacts on the Arena:
The Challenge – Get in the Arena
Is your personal brand a diamond in the rough?
Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Once you label me you negate me.” And, although it may not seem important to worry or care what others say or think about us, perceptions are reality and perceptions brand us. One may like to believe that it doesn’t matter what others think or believe about them, and perhaps it doesn’t, if they don’t need the relationships or the business.
Then, it is perfectly fine to behave in any manner that supports or serves their self-interests. After all, they don’t really want or need anyone to ensure success in life or business. They can go on their merry way and the rest of the world will have to reach out to them.
If they own the business, their staff will need to accept their behaviors or find another job. If they are employees, they better be absolutely fantastic or they can easily be replaced. If they are looking for investors, they better have the most fabulous product in the market or financing will evade them.
However, most individuals need to develop a brand that attracts and doesn’t repel. Fully understanding and creating a personal brand is an integral part of success.
The question now becomes, how does one build a personal brand that supports not detracts from success?
Finding the Right Tools
An Opportunity for 720thinking
Appreciating that going it alone is not the ideal, 720thinking recommends finding the right resources to help discover your personal brand. If one is serious about developing a personal brand that projects a positive, powerful image, than taking small consistent steps can make significant incremental changes to decrease the overwhelmed feeling.
It’s up to you. Are you interested in mining your personal brand? If the answer is yes, then there is no better time than the present to get started. Please keep us posted on your progress.
Most leaders go through their careers trying to get ahead, working hard to move up the ladder. Most entrepreneurs start enterprises with visions of building their idea into something bigger, something sustainable. They are basically building their career. At the same time, whether they are thinking about it or not, they are building their individual brands.
Personal brand is an interesting topic. Some folks allow the brand of their organization to stand in for their own individual statement. If they work for a powerful law firm that is known for its “take no prisoners” reputation, they may be more than willing to bask in that identification, especially if they do not quite measure up to it individually. The same may hold true for someone working for a company known for corporate social responsibility and a caring attitude. He may shoulder that image, even if he doesn’t fit it.
The individuals discussed above may survive faking their individual brand for a while, at least as far as the external world can see. But internally, those in contact with those individuals know they don’t fit the brand they are trying to adopt. It ultimately will not work.
At the same time there are those who have never given personal brand any thought at all. They just act the way they choose to act or according to their company’s norms without philosophizing about it. Upon retirement or at a point when they achieve an “AHA!” moment, they may try to piece together a story about who they were. Wouldn’t it have been better to have thought about it in advance and acted accordingly? Better, but not easier.
There are a few simple questions one can ask oneself early in a business career to begin the process of building a personal brand. They include:
Let’s just take a single value, integrity. Many people say they want to be known as having integrity. But integrity is a very broad, nebulous concept. Some would say having integrity means being honest and open, some might say ethical, others might say it means always doing what you say you are going to do. To satisfy everyone that integrity is a core value, Joyce really has to meet everyone’s definition- she has to be honest in her dealings with everyone, win or lose. That means no sneaking, spying, corporate espionage, etc. It means not using informers to find out what employees are up to, not showing favoritism, etc. It means always doing the right thing, no matter how painful or costly. And it means always following through on promises. You say you are going to get back to someone- you do. You promise to return a phone call, you do- always. You say you will follow up- you will. You will and you must if you want everyone to believe that you have integrity. You believing it is not enough.
There are some amazing numbers that come out of a recent survey. Seventy percent of professionals believe that they have defined their personal brand and fifty percent believe they are consistently living that brand. In actuality, only 15% have truly defined their personal brand and only 5% are consistently living it. So clearly, most are not doing a good job.
Nike has a big brand, as does Tom’s Shoes and Zappos. They all sell lots of shoes, but they all have very different brands. In the same sense, individuals should develop their own individual brands that make them stand out from others.
Smart leaders want to have an impact on others and to influence events. They must develop the personal brand that tells others that those leaders are the right people to trust and to follow. This is not a small thing. One looking back at the end of a career can see a winding path with lots of odd stops along the way, but can still view that career as a success if they had a strong brand that defined them and their actions. Those that exhibited “elastic” values and justified behaviors that were not aligned have rendered their brand useless, or worse, have defined themselves as someone who could justify any action to achieve a desired end. Now, there’s a brand.
Personal brand is a big deal. It is a unifying concept that gathers data from, friends, family, colleagues, employees, customers, vendors and the community and distills it into a single description of an individual and what it is like to interact with him or her. It can range from something simple like “He is a mensch”, which says a lot; to “Count your fingers after shaking hands with him”, which also says a lot.
Building a personal brand is very consistent with the 720thinking methodology that applies values and behaviors to skills and competencies across individuals and organizations.
We are swamped with undesired information on a daily basis. We unwittingly get on e-mail lists that bury us in offers of low interest rate loans and mortgages, Canadian pharmaceuticals and irrelevant consumer products. Somehow, despite the no-call list, we still get numerous calls from “charities” and others. Cold callers reach out for investment managers, insurance companies, alternative electrical service providers and those trying to get us to switch our ISP. And those are just the obvious spammers.
We constantly get spammed at work. Think about how that egalitarian “open door” policy works. It allows anyone to stick their head in and interrupt you at just about any time. If you decided to create some data around the subject, you could keep track of the number of interruptions per day or even per hour, and of each, ask the simple question “Was dealing with that more important than what I was doing when I was interrupted?” You just might discover that your co-workers are spamming you most of the time- and you are signing up for it.
In conjunction with the subject of spam, think about how it can cause you to become distracted or switch tasks. Then think about the number of times you take phone calls while working on something important; the number of times you stop to check e-mail, texts, etc. Much of the data you get is spam cloaked as something else. We are spamming ourselves! And it is constantly distracting
There is a lot of noise out there. Multiple voices are trying to get your attention. Out of all of them, producing a huge amount of static in your life, it is getting tougher and tougher to find the true signal, the information you really need to function effectively.
Everyone is always talking about widening bandwidth, being able to handle more tasks faster. Maybe we should be thinking about handling fewer tasks better and more efficiently. We are already a distracted society. Look around you as you drive. Other drivers are on the phone, texting or e-mailing, finding music, putting on makeup or eating. Research clearly shows that if you do two things at once, both suffer. That means your driving does suffer! That means that e-mailing while on the telephone creates a greater risk that you will say or write something you did not intend or something that can be misinterpreted.
Spam and multitasking are distracting. Clifford Nass, who is a scientist at Stanford University and one of the leaders in research on multitasking, has said that those who feel compelled to do two things at once are “suckers for irrelevancy.” In an interview with Ira Flatow of NPR, Nass said, “The research is almost unanimous, which is very rare in social science, and it says that people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They’re basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking….People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted….So they’re pretty much mental wrecks.”
Gloria Mark, professor at The University of California, Irvine, has noted the additional stress caused by switching rapidly between tasks. She says “I argue that when people are switching contexts every ten and one half minutes they can’t possibly be thinking deeply. There’s no way they can achieve flow….This is really bad for innovation.”
As leaders, we have t own our own schedules and our time, not let others own it. That means limiting access at times. That means showing discipline in checking e-mails and taking calls. It means making it okay for our direct reports to do that too. Flooding people with a constant influx of data and expecting them to remain current to the moment while still managing important tasks that require concentration and full attention is a formula for failure. Is doing ten tasks poorly really better than doing three really well?
Smart and effective leaders should figure out how to limit the spam that gets in their way. They should find the signal amid the noise. They should limit distractions from others and from themselves. And they should think more about quality than quantity. This is not easy, and for some, maybe not even possible. But thinking about it and making an effort in these directions should lead to positive results. It takes courage to step back from the precipice.
Insanity is thinking the same thing over and over again and expecting different thoughts.
Common sense, as well as research, constantly demonstrates how much our thoughts affect our actions and subsequently affect our results. Research also reveals that most of our actions occur as a direct result of habits we have formed over the course of time.
Our habits result from years and years of conditioning. This conditioning becomes so entrenched into our subconscious, both positively and negatively, that our habits cause us to react and do things repetitively. Dr. Bruce Lipton, PhD in biology and author of the controversial book, the Biology of Belief, has been researching the theory that 90 to 95% of our behaviors are a direct result of our subconscious thoughts.
Whether or not we buy into Dr. Lipton’s number of 90 to 95%, I strongly suspect that a significant portion of our thoughts come from our subconscious. That doesn’t necessarily make us clinically “insane.” It certainly can make us personally and professionally “insane.”
I am suggesting that we appreciate how we are dramatically affected by genetics, culture, environment, education, family, community, and work. It’s like water dripping on a rock. The day-to-day bombardment comes from all directions. Because life and business are so fast paced, our subconscious protects us and simultaneously limits us. It takes conscious, constant reflection to help us to identify how our conditioning and habits support and detract from our success in life and work.
In the book by Joel Olsen, The Slight Edge, Mr. Olsen suggestions “turning simple disciplines into massive results.” This takes conscious, deliberate effort to make lasting, sustainable, powerful changes. This book offers insights and ideas to help make simple, yet, highly impactful choices.
We have come to realize that the habit zone is the comfort zone, which ultimately can be the insanity zone. So, the results we achieve are not at all what we need to succeed. As 720thinkers, we continually use a multidimensional method and multi-lens tools to continually discover what contributes to “insanity” for individuals, organizations and communities. If you’re happy with your current results, than, your “insanity” is working for you. However, we would like to leave you with these two questions:
Are your results leading you where you want to be?
Are your results driving you “insane”?