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500+ for 50 – day 24: shock values

A person’s values in life are extremely important.  Values will serve as the driver behind the behaviors and actions that will lead to an individual’s future successes and failures.  They are not to be compromised, as they are the backbone of who we are and what we become.  If we live without well-developed values in place, we will float about life aimlessly and will develop into nothing more than a product of our circumstances.  Values keep us grounded.  They affirm our beliefs and set a standard for the way that we handle ourselves both personally and professionally. Values define an individual’s brand identity.

Recently I read an article quoting Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn who suggested that on his professional network it’s best to “establish an identity independent of your employer, city and industry. For example, make the headline of your LinkedIn profile not a specific job title … but personal-brand or asset focused … that way, you’ll have a professional identity that can carry with you as you shift jobs. You own yourself.”  I really enjoy Reid’s perspective.  I believe that an individual’s personal brand carries far more weight in life than the title that they hold or the responsibilities that they manage in an average workweek.  What is unique about what you have to bring to the table?  What do you have to offer society that is different than the other more than 7 billion people who live on this earth?  Our greatness lies in our willingness to be different, and there is something exceptional about each and every one of us.  When we define exactly what it is that we value in life and we begin living according to those standards, they become our personal brand…our LinkedIn headline if you will.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last several weeks about the values that I embody that have helped to mold me into the person that I am today.  How would someone assess my personal brand if given the opportunity?  They might describe me as unconventional or shocking if they judged me based upon the way that I write.  After all, I do convey my message a bit differently than anyone else that I’ve ever read.  And that’s something that I take quite a bit of pride in.  So perhaps that’s a fair definition of who I am.  I’m a person who is willing to stick to his values and beliefs no matter the criticism that he may encounter as a result.  I’m not afraid to stand out from the crowd.  In fact, I embrace that, because the values that I do my best to uphold I firmly believe to be the truth in life, no matter how unconventional they may appear in the eyes of society. 

There are few things that I simply will not compromise with regards to who I am.  And these few values, as innocent as they appear to me have often led to questions by others who feel intimidated by the scrutinizing eyes of society.  There are a handful of people within my network both personally and professionally who have chosen to offer their advice on my willingness to share and promote the things that I value in my writing.  Their position has been portrayed as one of protection, but in my view their perspective serves as nothing more than a representation of their own fears and insecurities.  If I am comfortable with the beliefs and standards that I’ve chosen to live my life by, then why should anyone feel compelled to deter me from promoting such values?  After all, I am not working on defining anyone else’s personal brand…I’m working on building my own.

My personal brand can be summed up by these five values:

  1. My faith: without it, I am nothing.  My relationship with God is what drives every fruitful decision that I make in my life.  It’s what gives me the courage to share the things that I do without fearing the judgment of anyone.  And it’s what drives me to servicing the needs of others by offering myself and my story as a sacrifice.
  2. Brutal honesty: it’s all fair game.  There is nothing that I am not willing to share with others through my writing.  If God calls me to share something, I do not hesitate.  There is no moment of indecisiveness as a result of what someone may think about the subject matter…I simply follow His lead.  If my openness can serve as a benefit to even one person who is in need of hearing my story, than I have succeeded.
  3. Perfectly imperfect: my flaws have made me who I am, so I embrace them.  When I look in the mirror, I am proud of the scars that I see.  Because those scars remind me of the adversity that has made me a stronger person.  They remind me of the dramatic story that I have to share that allows me to touch the lives of others.  And more than anything else they remind me of how much I need the Lord in my life directing my course, and for that I am forever thankful.
  4. Courage to be different: this is something that I do not take lightly.  I don’t ever want to compromise the man that God has created me to be to fit in to any social circle, be it personally or professionally.  I was made to be the person that I am full time, and if that means that I stand out from the crowd, I’m okay with that.  I’m comfortable with pulling a few weeds as I’m confident in God’s ability to plant an abundance of rich seedlings in all areas of my life.
  5. Pain to prosperity: there is no greatness to be achieved prior to the introduction of pain.  Anyone who has done anything of meaning in their life has encountered walls of adversity that they’ve had to scale in order to reach their next milestones.  I am a believer that it is our ability to manage and overcome pain that will be the barometer of our success in life.  And I plan on always being a fair representation of that belief.

Nothing too shocking there, right?  You’d be surprised.  Society is driven by conformity.  And when you promote these types of beliefs freely you most certainly open yourself up to criticism from the masses who have defined what it takes to fit in and be successful in life.  But who is to say that society’s standards and values are correct?  If the brand that I’ve built above is one to be criticized or deemed unacceptable, then perhaps society has things a bit backwards. 

And maybe it’s time for me to start working on number 6…

  1. Changing the way the world thinks.

May God Bless!

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