“Your Character. Your personality. It’s your graphic, your sign, your value, and the ONLY thing you can truly possess.”
A friend of mine wrote that.
It was timely, because not only did I recently teach a chapter on ‘branding’ in my business English course, but I’ve been thinking about how to ‘brand’ myself in a new business endeavor.
What are the qualities and values I want potential clients to associate with my name? How do I even go about branding myself? But aside from business…what values am I forging in my own life?
It’s easy to dust of the thesaurus and look for adjectives. But it’s far more difficult to BE some of those things. I suppose it depends on the words you choose for your life’s brand. Most of the things I want require hard work.
I want to speak German fluently, but the words aren’t going to magically appear in my head. I want to do pull ups, but I can’t expect to wake up with the ability. But these are things we can wrap our hands around.
Intangibles are much tougher.
To be reliable: it means to be there for people.
Integrity: it means to actually LIVE what you say you believe.
To make friendships: means to risk rejection.
To love: means to risk the most tender part of yourself.
A good work ethic: (*this is earth-shattering, I know) but it means WORKING HARD.
Living your dreams: it means you will face failure on a daily basis.
But just like with pull-ups, forging your life’s brand requires effort, dedication and practice. You will not be struck by lightening in a freak laboratory accident nor will a radioactive spider-bite suddenly make your life complete.
The fire will rage. The hammer will fall. But actions determine whether the metal becomes a sword or vaporizes into noxious fumes.
We are born with certain personality traits, tendencies and characteristics. But much of our character is hammered by iron, in the heat of the forge; and we can’t see the results until things cool down.
And yet, we are not passive, shapeless creatures. Our actions shape our character.
Inaction shapes it too.
You just have to decide what brand you want for your life. And once you figure it out, you have to work for it. Because if you don’t brand yourself, time or circumstance may do it for you.
And it may not be the brand you had hoped for.