Your life matters. You probably already know that. At some level, most people do understand that. But, here is the problem. Most people do not understand how much their life matters. The reason that most of us do not realize the full extent to which our life matters is because we can’t see much beyond our nose. That sounds harsh. But, for the average person, it is true. I’ll explain more. But, here is what I want you to take away from this assertion. It doesn’t have to be that way. You were born to be a ladder that connects yourself and others to something transcendent. Until you do, your ladder will never be fully extended.
In my garage, I have a fiberglass extension ladder. Ladders are great metaphors for life’s journey. Just as the rungs of the ladder will take us either up or down, so is the lesson of life.
Which direction are your steps taking you? We can think of your best you or your ultimate dream as being at the top of the ladder. We can think of your comfort zone that comes naturally to you as being the first rung on the ladder.
You then must continually ask yourself three questions.
Advertising is everywhere. Television, radio, bulletin boards, online banners, and other media channels bombard us with advertising designed to steer our preferences for practically everything—striving to claim a share of our thinking and of course our wallets. They spend hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars for 30 second spots intended to grab our attention. Its called “branding”. Does it work? Yes. You know that Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan sneakers is Nike’s brand. Those of us over forty still remember the images of the lonely Maytag repairman who has little work to do because of such reliable Maytag appliances. We associate Volvo with safety because of branding. The message is that branding works. I just spent two days in Denver, Colorado with an excellent branding specialist, Dick Bruso, to better hone in on a brand that best captures the essence of me. It was a great experience. You’ll hear more about that in coming months. But, the process got me thinking about the brand that each of us convey in our meaningful relationships. When people think of me, Dr. Harold, what comes to their mind? That is my brand. What is your brand?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a combination of factors that identify the product and differentiate it from other products. We can pretty easily understand how this applies to commercial products.
But, what about your own relational brand? What combination of factors uniquely define you?
During my time with the branding specialist, he asked me how those who know me well describe me. He wanted to know what specific words they would use. I thought about actual words that gracious friends have recently articulated like “hard-working”, “committed”, and “smart”. I appreciate the positive sentiment that friends ascribe to me character. But, capturing one’s relational brand goes beyond describing personality characteristics.
Rather, what words would people use to describe their relationship with me? What images come to their mind? Do they see me as someone who walks alongside them when they are in a time of need? Am I perceived as someone who knows how to listen to their heart in the good and the tough times? Are they left behind in the wake of my busyness? Is my engagement with them consistent with how they see me engage with others?
These are the type of questions that inform your relational branding.
Why is your relational brand important?
Ultimately, it is the same as the reason that branding is important to commercial products. It’s about influence.