Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness. – Shakti Gawain
Hand-thrown, hand-painted pottery bowls, may all be vessels but they are also unique in and of themselves. It’s the same with people. We are all made of the same stuff, and all connected by our humanity, and yet each of us is unique. The line, form, color, and texture of our lives is specifically our own, and is our richest source of all we could ever hope to be.
Why then, do we spend so much time and effort conforming to the mediocrity of collective indoctrination?
For immediate survival, that’s why. If we don’t all learn to be like the other kids in kindergarten, we quickly learn we’ll be singled-out and punished through ridicule or worse. We learn very early that the approval of others is integral to our need for safety and security.
We carry this knowledge into young adulthood where we must survive in the “market place.” We go to school and train for viable, bankable skills. Then we upgrade our skills continually as new information and technology forces us to learn the newest and latest whatchamadoodle. We even take on multiple roles at work, regardless of how well we enjoy those roles, in order to make ourselves indispensable and hard to replace.
At some point however, we need to step back and ask ourselves if we are just surviving, at the expense of thriving, and whether in the process, we are truly our authentic self. As Raymond Hull puts it:
He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.
How Do You Know if You’re Surviving or Thriving?
We’re not thriving until we’re truly living our own brand. And, when we live our own personal brand we feel at peace, with energy and enthusiasm.
If we feel tension in the pit of our stomach, a loss of energy, and a lack of interest in our lives, and in the lives of those around us, then it is a sure sign that something’s gone wrong; we’ve lost our true path somewhere along the way in our quest to stay afloat.
Discovering What Makes Your Brand Unique
Here’s a three-step head-start to reconnecting with your pre-kindergarten self and activating your inner guidance system toward brand you:
Step One. Think of someone you really admire a lot. Athlete, comic, actor, writer, explorer, scientist; just be sure you’re thinking of someone who you admire, not someone you envy – big difference!
Now, write down everything about this individual that you admire. Be specific. Maybe part of what you admire was his/her willingness at the beginning of his/her career to get up early every morning to write his/her first novel, without knowing for sure that his/her book would ever see the light of day. Your list should include specific steps that person took to accomplish his/her goals as well as a character trait, or set of character traits that you can ascribe to each step that made his/her achievements possible.
Step Two. Analyze what you’ve written. You’ll no doubt notice that what you’ve written divides into two categories:
- Character traits that you yourself also possess, and you know you possess.
- Those actions and abilities that you believe make the individual you admire unusual and which you do not believe, at first blush, are things you could accomplish or character traits you possess.
Step Three. Well guess what? I have a theory that you can’t admire someone else without first having the entire “blueprint” within you as well. It may be in “code” at first, but the blueprint is there. In Step Three you need to read the “code.”
If you admire someone who broke a record in sports, and you’re not an athlete, I don’t mean you should try to become an athlete. As Judy Garland once put it:
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
Therefore, a better way to interpret the code might be that you have it inside you to drive past preconceived boundaries in your own life. Maybe you decide to be the first person in your family to get a post graduate degree.
So, in this step, you review those achievements and character traits you at first believed you did not have in common with the individual you admire, and you now apply the salient points for each, to your own life.
To take the pottery analogy a little further, because what you need in order to live your own brand is already inside you, you really are malleable, like clay, in your own hands. You can be the one who molds, shapes and forms your own life, on your own terms, and in the process you will discover that brand that is absolutely, genuinely, yours and yours alone. Taking a closer look at those we admire, can greatly hasten the process.
Please leave your thoughts on this subject in the Comments section below.
In the meantime,