I’ve just re-read Tom Peter’s classic article The Brand Called You.
Revisiting this piece just seemed the right thing to do. As individual contributors, we may not change as the Coca-Cola logo or Ford Mustang might. However, aspects of our own brand do evolve over time.
The trick is to recognize (and express) that evolution effectively.
Dan Gilbert’s TED talk, “The Psychology of Your Future Self” (See it here) discusses how we underestimate the power of time. (He calls this “the end of history illusion”) Life and work are never static. As a contributor, you are not either. That’s what we forget to acknowledge. That we are ever-changing — even if that shift isn’t obvious.
Case in point, when working toward my degree, I was very much enamored with quantifying aspects of my field. Fascinated with the notion that a correlation coefficient could describe how an instrument could predict future performance — motivation theory was the last thing on my mind. I gravitated toward techniques that allowed me to differentiate between groups of people statistically.
However, when I sat for my qualification exams, the outcome was not at all what I had expected. The professor whom I least identified with (he taught motivation theory) let me know that I excelled in the question designed to evaluate his topic area. I was shocked. “Not what you expected right?”, he expressed with a smile. I truly didn’t know what to say, because I was truly disappointed. I felt the topic was a bit “fluffy” — if you get my meaning.
Fast forward. and I’ve found myself thinking more and more, about organizational culture and how this motivates us. Validation of selection instruments doesn’t seem all that appealing. Yet, the idea of shifting energy within organizations certainly does.
I had gravitated — slowly but surely — toward the outcome of my qualification exams. Life and experiences may have contributes.
So, I’ll say this.
Lean in and explore it.
If you feel the need to shift your “brand”, claim it.
But above all, try not to ignore it.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.