Right now it’s a pretty safe bet y’all think I’m talking about marketing, media and the effort to establish your position, image and impression in your chosen field. Well then consider this a Bait and Switch masterfully accomplished. I’m actually talking about tattoos.
Allow me to explain myself. Actually, I suppose this is really a suggestion that you consider explaining YOURself…in the form of expertly applied artwork to your birthday suit. While I am not advocating that everybody should go out and get themselves permanently inked, it does beg the question; what do you believe in so strongly…so absolutely that you would actually consider branding yourself with that belief?
I think for many of us our belief system is somewhat negotiable. We are generally wired to please and avoid conflict and as such, we can, at times, be accused of altering ourselves in order to be appealing, agreeable and well, um…liked. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, more often than not, its practice is more than just a bit questionable. A belief system ceases to be a belief system if it comes and goes depending on the company we keep. A belief system in something steadfast and unwavering. It is a conviction, a code, a creed that we live by at all times and through all things. We’ve all heard the joke about the atheist who goes off to war and the minute enemy fire surrounds him, he’s praying to God like no body’s business. Odd, semi-funny jokes aside, I think that if we were required to have what we believed in deeply or knew to be true tattooed to our body, we’d REALLY want to be committed to the idea. If a guy gets “Mama” and a huge heart tattooed on his chest and he hasn’t been home for a visit or a Sunday dinner in ten years that just false advertising. If a guy has the Sanskrit word for Peace emblazoned on his bicep and is prone to frequent road rage, there is a conflict of interest afoot. If a gal gets her boyfriend’s name and the word Forever provocatively tattooed on her shoulder but six weeks later breaks up with him because he lost his job, we could all safely assume she didn’t have the fine print of conditions which must be met for her to actually commit to “forever” tattooed as well.
Now, I well realize that an impressive percentage of tattoos were inspiration born out of alcohol induced initiative. “Sure! A tattoo of Mini Mouse on my ass seems like a fantastic idea!” says an inordinate amount of vodka shots in Las Vegas. And low and behold you wake up the next morning with a perky mouse on your fine derriere. But what if…what if, when we had all our whits about us, we purposefully choose something of deep importance that we would abide in forevermore and branded ourselves with that belief. Do you know what it would be? Would you hesitate and ask yourself if you’re certain enough to permanently declare it? What, or who, do you believe in with such strength, certainty and fierce resolve that you would actually endure significant pain to proclaim it. Yes, getting a tattoo hurts like hell. But so does standing up for what you believe in. I think it is nearly a given that if we choose something that we will defend with the whole of who we are, it’s going to cost us. There WILL be times where we will be criticized and condemned or demonized and dismissed because we daringly choose to hold the line. We live in a world that surrenders so easily and expects us to do the same. Do we quietly comply and adjust ourselves in order to be agreeable or are we willing to stand on the firing line of criticism and contempt not because we are brave, but because we are certain. As Yoda so sagely insisted, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Do we TRY to stand for something or do we stand strongly by and for our beliefs…no matter what.
I have referenced before a program that ran briefly on cable TV called “Whale Wars.” When I heard the tag line of the show it felt like I’d had the wind knocked out of me. It declared that, “You haven’t lived until you’ve found something worth dying for.” Do you have that something? Do you know what it is?
Personal branding is essentially the practice of marketing yourself to create an image or impression on the marketplace. But how are you marketing yourself to the world? What are you insisting that others know, with absolute certainty about you? Businesses, trends and areas of interest and expertise will come, go and evolve across time, as they should. But Who you are. What you believe in. Your Purpose. These are the things we must choose with steadfast courage and a fierceness that never wavers. Are you devoted enough to your ideals to wantingly be branded by them?
I’m not (necessarily) encouraging you to immediately pencil in a trip to the tattoo artist of your choosing. But I am insisting that you find and know what you believe in so resolutely that you are willing to declare it fearlessly and forever.
While Donald Trump remains the undisputed King of personal branding, each of us chooses our own Kingdom. In other words, who we are and all that we stand for builds our life around us. The people we love, the character we live, the principles we are loyal to. Choose with courage. Declare with strength and humility. Believe with the whole of who you are. Allow these gifts to be the enduring mark…the brand, you leave on the world.