A few weeks ago I squeezed in attending a workshop for a handful of people within my organization selected to be a part of an inaugural protégé/mentoring program. The workshop was titled “How to Brand Yourself” – – well it probably wasn’t really called that because that conjures up images of a branding iron and either horses or slaves, so I’m going to guess that they called it something else, but you get my meaning. I arrived about 30 minutes late to the virtual workshop but what I caught was really very good. I wrote down on one of the hundreds of post-it notes that are scattered all over my dorm/office a challenge from the presenter … Fill in the blanks: “I want to be known for being ____ so that I can deliver _____ to _____.” He dared us to complete that sentence as we attempted to discover our personal brand. Moreover, he said, we could use it in both our professional and personal lives.
It’s been over 4 weeks since I attended that workshop and I find myself at times, looking for that scrap of paper so that I make sure I don’t forget to fill in those blanks. You see, I really want to fill in the blanks. It feels like something that not only I should do, but that I really need to do.
For the past 15 months, I have spent so much time being an over achieving employee, a bewildered student, a so-so mom, an elderly care-giver and let us not forget a jilted ex-lover that branding myself in a good light has been non-existent. Week after week, month after month has gone by and I think to myself that I am grateful because my life is better than most. But in my heart I feel like very little to rejoice over and I wonder what happened to my joy? I believe I had it at one time, at least I think I did.
Since the time of Aristotle (throwback to last semesters’ Ethics course – – yikes), man has been asking the question that I now ponder of myself, why are we here, what’s the meaning of life, what’s my brand statement. Well maybe the great thinkers of all time weren’t quite thinking about the latter, but I believe they are all loosely tied to one another. One day soon (I anxiously await), I will finish this undergraduate degree and I will put it behind me. One day even sooner (sadly), I will stop having to baby my 17 year old. She will be making grown up decisions on her own. Sure, she will always need her mother, but not in the same way as today. And someday soon (please God, sooner rather than later) I will stop being a Sourcing Manager for this nightmare of a position and I will advance to other work. When all these things, that are so much a part of me now, wrap up, what will I look back on and say? Will I have found joy throughout the journey, so that when they come to an end I will say it was all worth it and I’m a better person because of it? About seven years ago I dated a man who I believe was the one true love of my life. I remember saying to him, in his cozy condo, over large glasses of wine and even larger plates of pasta, “No matter what happens, no matter if this ends terribly, I will never regret one moment I spent with you. This was the best feeling I have ever had, exactly what I had always dreamed of, and I’ll never ever be sad it happened”. I have dated a lot of men before and after him, and I’ve never said or even thought it with any other.
Makes me wonder, what else I feel that way about. Being a mom? Of course, no brainer, my daughter is the most amazing person and the sole reason I haven’t tossed in the towel years ago. Returning to school? Yes, despite how much I hate the homework, and the expense and the juvenile classmates, I will never regret the decision to come back to college and finish my degree. My job? Yes, even that. Despite how much I absolutely hate pest control, office politics, and multi-client RFP’s, I will never regret the path that I took to get this role because I wouldn’t have advanced to this level without it.
I think the joy is there, underneath the layers of self-doubt and sadness I often feel, it’s there I just have to dig for it a little deeper some days, some months. I have to be careful not to let my joy get over shadowed by the perils of a life unbranded. So in that respect, I took my first stab tonight at my branding statements. I think they may need a little tweaking and massaging here or there, but it’s a start. Let me know how you do with yours….
Professionally, I want to be known for being highly competent and trustworthy so that I can deliver positive, common sense results to people who trust and depend on me.
Personally, I want to be known for being worthy so that I can deliver joy and happiness to special people (and one day a special man) who loves me.