OUTWARDITIS. IS IT PLAGUING YOU?

 I recently wrote a business article about a little something I call outwarditis. It talks a lot about how I see brands suffering in all kinds of ways as a result of looking to outside solutions such as headhunters, advertisers, consultants and so on to solve the long-term issues that have been plaguing their brands.

And as I was writing, it dawned on me that this disorder goes far beyond the business world. Outwarditis has reached epidemic proportions in our everyday world as well.  It can’t be denied that the vast majority of us run ourselves ragged looking for an outward answer to the things that hold us back and make us uncomfortable in our lives.

We devour book after self help book to enlighten us. We blow through therapist after therapist to fix us. We join running groups and meetup groups to create a sense of belonging and mutual understanding.  We pop pill after pill so that we can sleep more, eat less and manage everything from anxiety to attention span.

The list goes on and on. There seems to be this deep seeded cultural belief that the solution lies in somebody else’s hands.

And it’s a shame, because the simple truth is, none of the solutions that will bring us the lasting comfort we yearn for are ever going to be found outside ourselves. Even the ones that give temporary relief eventually stop working, sending people scurrying for higher doses, replacement therapists and latest crazes.

Which is why outwarditis is a terminal condition. It will never, never lead any of us to the source of the actual problem. Which means we will just continue to suffer until the day we die.

But here’s the good news: There is a cure. It’s you.

Within you lies every answer. And looking inward, instead of outward, will lead you to the solution to every mental, physical and emotional disorder in existence. Once you know that, then all you need is some solid guidance, a bit of courage and a boatload of tenacity. That trifecta, applied to what ails you in a consistent, never-surrender kind of way will always, eventually, end in triumph.

Now you would think that would conjure up excitement, but for some reason, it tends to kick up all kinds of fear.

Don’t ask me why, but we as a race seem to fear our own power.  And as a result, our innate ability to create a life filled with passion, purpose, excitement, health, wealth and love sits dormant, gathering dust within.

Eeeek. Doesn’t the thought of that just make you want to give your outwarditis an inwardectomy? If so, join the crew on the Facebook Branding Powers page. We’ll be sure to dose you regularly with tidbits on just how to do so!

© 2012 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Feit Cornett.

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FARTING BUNNIES AND FAMOUS BRANDS

Well, it’s Easter. And I’m just not sure what to talk about … The magical bunny that farts chocolate eggs or the unshaven dude who rose from the dead.

Then again, maybe I don’t have to choose. Because if you stop to think about it for a minute, the two actually have a lot in common.

They both represent the power of pulling off a seemingly impossible deed.

I love the seemingly impossible. It’s always there, just begging to be proven wrong. And one of the things I love the most about being a part of the branding world is that so often brands do exactly that.

Did you know Colonel Sanders had well over a thousand doors slammed in his face before anyone was willing to try his secret recipe?

Brands like Volkswagen, Lacoste and Old Spice have all risen from the dead at one point or another.

And Apple, Amazon, Google and Disney all started in someone’s garage.

Pulling off the seemingly impossible is alive and well in the world of brands. And I love it! It’s a powerful and inspiring reminder to all brands – and all people running them – that there is truly to limit to what you can make of yourself.

And having been a part of the marketing world for as long as I have, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that, with the exception of Colonel Sanders, there really is no secret to the recipe of success shared by all the mega successful brands out there. In fact, it can really be whittled down to just one word.

Faith.

That’s the name of the game on Easter day, right? Well, it’s the name of the game everyday if you are building a brand.

You have to absolutely, positively know beyond the shadow of a doubt’s shadow that you have something totally unique and valuable to offer the world. And the real trick to that is knowing without a doubt that you, as a human being, are totally unique and valuable.

Yet far too few of us on this planet truly embrace that. As a whole, we good people are plagued with doubts and insecurities about our ability to succeed and really leave a powerful legacy behind. It’s the one fundamental difference between the vast majority of us and the stratospherically successful people we all so admire.

Think about it. Can you even imagine ever having heard Steve Jobs say, “I’m not sure I’m good enough to pull this off.” Or what the world might have missed out on if Walt Disney had bought into the whole notion of setting his art aside for a “real job.” Just think how many gazillions of dollars would have been left unmade if after 999 rejections, Colonel Sanders chose to believe in the naysayers instead of himself and throw in the towel.

Luckily that didn’t happen. Of course that didn’t happen. The people who built these brands all had passion for who they were and what they could create. They believed in themselves and their innate ability to bring their unique ideas to life. They knew long before anyone else that they had something valuable to offer the world. If they hadn’t trusted that, believe me, none of us would have little white chords spilling out of our iPod obsessed ears or fighting the SEO war to get our name to the top of that Google page.

We are all capable of making our marks in such a grand fashion. All we need to do is learn to get out of our own ways.

I really believe in this. I believe we find our super powers in our professional endeavors because we are willing to dig so deeply into this part of our lives. Think about the sleep we are willing to lose for our work. The hoops we are willing to jump through. The energy we are willing to expend.

We pour so much of who we are into our what we do for a living. And that makes this area of life an incredible opportunity to become powerful.

And becoming powerful is exactly what I wish for you.  I am investing all my marketing skill and life wisdom and personal passion into creating ways to help brands bust through the doubts that hold them back so that they can authentically create a powerful voice and presence. Build powerful profits. And leave powerful legacies.  Will you join me on my new Facebook page to help me in that cause? It’s called Branding Powers. And I’ve created it because I believe in brands, and more to the point, the people who run them.

On that thought I will leave you. Because, as I mentioned earlier, there are chocolate bunny farts to be eaten.

SPLIT PERSONALITIES

Setting aside those who have been officially diagnosed, split personalities seem to be a popular coping mechanism for the vast majority of the rest of us as well.  In the spirit of complete honesty, I’ve been watching it in myself for years.

Every day, when I walk into the professional world, I transform, at least to some degree, into something that I intrinsically am not. I split from Merry Carole and become “Professional Merry Carole.” A girl who hides certain aspects of who she is and what she believes. A girl who somehow feels her personal truths are not welcome in her professional endeavors. In essence when I get to work, I “check myself at the door.” For the most part, I’m guessing we all do. For some reason, the office door has become a gateway dividing who we are from whom we are expected to be.

It’s true, right? We walk into work and suddenly need to watch what we do, watch what we share, watch what we say and how we say it. (Enter the whole delightful notion of political correctness.)

When the whole notion of jobs and careers came about, it was pretty simple: An exchange of a certain type of talent for a certain amount of cash. But somewhere along the way, things have changed.

The deal we strike these days for receiving a paycheck is very different.  Skill and talent is now the least of what we give. We also agree to be compliant when something does not sit well with us. To be respectful of those “higher up” on the totem pole even if they haven’t done anything to elicit that respect. We are expected to be “politically correct” rather than clear and honest.  To be “professional” when we are not treated fairly or appropriately. And most noticeably, to be willing to work night, day and weekends because, hey, we’re lucky we have jobs.

I see this as alive in those who own their own businesses as I do in those who work for others. The players might sound a little different, but the dynamic is the same. Instead of the boss having the ultimate say, it’s the client. Instead of a supervisor forcing you to work overtime, it’s personal fears of not succeeding that send you working late into the night and all through the weekend.

No matter who we are working for, if we are operating from a place of fear, we are working against ourselves.

And let’s be honest: it is fear that runs the show in the professional world. Fear of losing our jobs. Losing our homes. Losing our livelihood. And while I am as much at the mercy of this dynamic as anyone, I still have to wonder: Should the person holding the checkbook really have the ultimate, almighty say in our lives?

Would we stay in friendships that didn’t allow us to speak freely and laugh openly? Would we go to restaurants that expected us to pay for our food and stay late to wash the dishes because hey, we’re lucky just to have a meal.

No way, right?

I am wondering if, perhaps, it isn’t time to bring more of who we truly are into the work place. Speak authentically.  Share personally. Value our time in ways beyond the paycheck.

The notion that we can truly separate our personal lives from our professional lives is, seems to me, fundamentally flawed.

Right there in the word profession is the word profess. To make an announcement. Stepping into our professional roles everyday we are professing to the world, “This is who I am.” Given that, how could our professional selves not be an expression of our personal selves? And if that’s the case, how can we not want to feel as genuine and authentic as possible.

If we have to play the game to succeed, then I say perhaps its time to change the game we play. There aren’t personal lives and professional lives. There’s just life. And there isn’t nine-to-five Merry Carole and weekend Merry Carole. There’s just me.

Joy is not designed to be compartmentalized. Passion is not designed to be compartmentalized. Authenticity is not designed to be compartmentalized.

We are all meant to have and express these things through every part of our life.

Therein, I’ll bet you, lies the trick to that whole notion of: And they all lived happily ever after.”

© 2012 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Feit Cornette