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“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Chanel, Nike, Apple. Vogue, Le Creuset, Manolo Blahnik.
All brands including the ones mentioned above manifest an image in our minds when they are mentioned. Good, bad, luxurious, efficient, feminine, masculine, generous, stringent, any number of descriptors may come to mind. Based on the behavior, image, products and creator’s mission, each brand is unique unto itself. Each brand made decisions along the way to establish themselves as the brand we now know, and while each brand cannot control absolutely the exterior world, how they respond to it is solely in their control.
While it may seem that as individuals we have no need to worry about branding if we aren’t in business ourselves, I would argue it is each of our most important tasks in life to be cognizant of the fact that each of us are our own brand. How we present ourselves to the world can build our resumé for not only stronger professional relationships, but stronger personal ones as well. And because every day is an opportunity to build the brand we wish to leave as a legacy when we are long gone, it is vitally important to maintain a protected private life. We must have a sanctuary to come home to at night, people we can trust and a space to not worry about perception because if we don’t have the balance of a strong personal sanctuary, we will be unable to be at our best when we go out into the business of life.
Consider for a moment historical figures you admire that have passed on decades if not centuries ago. Each of these individuals had a similar amount of time as each of us to leave their stamp on the world. And because of their actions, choices and ways of living, we are still mentioning them in conversation, looking to them for inspiration and holding them in high regard. Names that come to my mind – George Washington, Jane Austen, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, Rosa Parks, Joan of Arc, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Each are human, no special powers that any of us couldn’t acquire if we so choose, and yet their legacies are awe inspiring.
Whether you are destined to leave a legacy that the entire world will know about or simply the community you live in, choosing to leave behind a legacy you are proud of, and a brand you have pursued purposely will create a life of living for yourself which brings much contentment and joy.
There are many components to consider when establishing the brand you desire. Let’s begin with actions because as the old, yet timeless maxim states, “actions speak louder than words”.
“The universe doesn’t give you what you ask for with your thoughts – it gives you what you demand with your actions.” ― Steve Maraboli
1. Proactive or Reactive – do you choose to set goals, plan and remain focus until they are met or are you a victim of life’s events that occur around you?
2. Constructive or Destructive – are the habits you keep, behaviors you exhibit and predilections you include in your life building the life of quality you want or slowly destroying it? Eating, fitness, relationships, attitude, etc.
3. Helpful or Hurtful – do you step in with compassion or pounce on the downtrodden?
4. Work Ethic – do you give your absolute best even when it isn’t expected or needed, or do you give just enough to get by?
5. Sponge or Stone – do you have an insatiable curiosity for life and continue to be a student beyond the classroom or are you satisfied with the status quo and just getting by?
And while actions are indeed powerful, some of the most powerful means to cheer someone up or pull someone down are by the words one chooses:
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill
1. Diction – your word choice matters. Do you reveal yourself to be knowledgable or close-minded? Honest or deceitful? Observant or ignorant?
2. Tone – regardless of what you say, what feeling is created to those that hear you when you speak? Are you sincere or sarcastic, light-hearted or hurtful, comforting or cold?
3. Projection and Pitch – when you speak, do you command attention? Do you display yourself to be strong or meek, certain or doubtful?
“You can have whatever you want if you dress for it. ” ― Edith Head
1. Physical Health – one’s projection of good health conveys to others your good sense and respect for yourself. There is no certain weight, height or age that a brand can’t have, but rather an appearance of respecting what one’s body can do for them and caring for it accordingly conveys knowledge and potential for success in other endeavors as well.
2. Cleanliness/Grooming – when you project an image of cleanliness no matter what you wear, again you project self-confident and self-respect. If you are willing to look out for yourself and take care of yourself, a subtle level of trust has been built. Granted, depending upon your line of work, cleanliness may be relative – athletes, construction workers, fire-fighters, etc clearly have other more important objects to focus on than sweat stains, but a presentation of the understanding of it at the proper level is key.
3. Wardrobe – often the first impression of one’s appearance is the clothes one’s wears, and while we mustn’t judge a book by the cover, humans are visual and what they see, they respond to. Choose your “wrapping” carefully based on what the situation calls for. Depending again on your circumstance and the brand you want to build. For example, a person pursuing success in the fashion industry will have to dress differently than a farm-hand working on the ranch; however, dressing appropriately for the job will convey one’s preparedness and awareness of expectations.
“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” –Buddha
1. Attitude – positive or negative, possible or impossible, hopeful or cynical. Do you approach life with a determination that your best days are in front of you or behind you? The attitude you convey will draw to you similar minded people, so be sure you draw whom you desire.
2. Internal Dialogue – what does the conversation in your mind sound like? Your thoughts predict your words and your actions, so be mindful to encourage supportive, positive repartee in your mind day in and day out.
Every single day, we project an image, an attitude, an idea of who we are out into the world which either draws the connections we want toward us or keeps them at bay. And while looking at our lives posthumously may provide much motivation to develop a brand we are proud of decades and centuries after we are gone, it is the rewards in the present that will be even more appreciated because, while establishing the brand you wish to convey will take time and much discipline, when you have created a habit of living in such a way that you are proud of, your entire life will be elevated – your mood, the quality of your days, your relationships and your relationship with yourself. All of which will cultivate a most amazing simply luxurious life of which could only happen with conscious effort and purposeful decision making.
Yes, you really do have the power. Now build the brand you’ve been dreaming about.
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