Deon Potgieter is an Internationally renowned author, television producer and director with 20 years' experience. He is the author of the book “Rose of Soweto” and the SAFTA 2010 winning sitcome “Family Bonds”.
Remember the perception of who you are is the reality of who you are to others. Does your Facebook account reflect who you are correctly or does it depict an image you want to give others of yourself? Closer to home do you convey and project the personal brand to your co-workers, friends and family that is true to who you are or want them to believe you are or are you letting circumstance and others determine the persona you are projecting? How people see you is generally not the way you see yourself and you may be surprised by what is your personal brand.
When developing the award winning sitcom “Family Bonds” which depicted a situation where a newlywed couple moves into their first home in the suburbs, only to be met with a group of their extended family that arrive for a visit and then never leave, we realised that personal branding, projection of character, was very important in order to convey the differences between the people living at close quarters to each other. I devised a workshop where we took the leads out of their environment and placed them in a small house for a week in the Drakensberg. They lived at close quarters with each other for this time in order to really bond as a group. We shared an extreme experience of fire walking and also numerous other activities, but the key focus of the workshop was to develop the personal brand of each character. Prior to getting into the fictional creations, I gave the six leads the following exercise as an illustration. I asked each of them to write down anonymously exactly how they saw each other and themselves. I then collected the papers mixed them up and read the results out to them.
To say the soon to be famous faces were shocked at the results is an understatement. Some even felt embarrassed at hearing how they were seen by the others, keeping in mind many of them had known each other for a number of years. It was certainly an eye-opening experience. None of the perceptions of the others matched their concept of self. Why not try this with a group of friends or co-workers, it's sure to be an awakening or, at least, an affirmation of the persona you project to those around you. Once you have this awareness you can go about if needs be, changing how you carry yourself in order for you to be and become the person you want to be.
The artist Michelangelo claimed that his sculptures were already present within the stone he was working and all he had to do was chip away the pieces in order to reveal it. We are all covered with layers of stone cast upon us by others, but who we are cannot fully be determined in terms of race, sex, class, religion and nationality – there is a core self of essence, which exists in all of us independent of external influence – and that core is our true selves. Whether we choose to define and expose that individual is a personal choice we all have to make, but having the knowledge that you can, is already a step in the right direction and the realisation that you need not be defined as a piece of unchiseled rock but an artwork waiting to reveal yourself is in itself empowering.
Your personality is how others perceive you, but your character is who you are. If you develop your character, your personality will follow as the process works from inside to outside. Personal branding is about developing an image of yourself you want to project in everything you do. In order for it to be real and accepted, however, it needs to be sincere and not merely a false representation of yourself. Stephen R Covey writes in his book “7 Habits of highly effective people”, “The inside-approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to yourself precedes making and keeping promises to others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try and improve relationships with others before improving ourselves.” In other words if you let yourself down through your behaviour and habits how can you expect to not let other people down? If you don't take care of number one, how can anyone trust that you would look after anybody else? You have to row your own boat, nobody can do it for you even if they wanted to. Change and moving to a better tomorrow starts with you; your very thoughts, the things you occupy your mind with will manifest in your life, so be sure that you really want it before you ponder it.
If you want to have more freedom and latitude in your job and life, be more responsible, and helpful. Do more than you need to. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want a friend, be a friend. If you want happiness, be the kind of person who generates positive energy and sidesteps negative energy rather than empowering it. Life can throw numerous unpleasant experiences our way, but we are the ones who determine how much it will effect us and how much power it will have over our lives. It's our choice. If you don't make the choice to slow down for a speed trap, you're going get a fine.
How much you get upset and allow the experience to further ruin your day is then also a choice. We can allow the snowball to grow or to dissipate, and move on with our lives. Everything is a choice and the choices we make determine our characters and in turn our personalities. If you want to be the strong, confident, resourceful, helpful, caring, loving and successful individual, you have to make the choice to be that, and not allow external influences to drive you down a road you don't want to go.
The sports brand Nike is associated with success and winning, yet all their catch phrase is; is “Just do it”. So their character's “Just do it” and the personality of the brand, as we perceive it, is that of a winner, because “it” is winning, no excuses, no stories, “just win”. So what does your character say to others? What is your personal brand? Identifying your core values and determining whether they reflect who you are and want to be is vital. Then ensure you live by those values, you may add a few to which you would like to aspire, and you are well on your way to building a character that will present a personality and brand with which you are comfortable.
The International acclaimed statesman and pioneer of the United Nations, President Jan Smuts, wrote in his book “Holism and Evolution” in 1927, “It must be clear to those who look below the surface of things that far-reaching changes in our fundamental ideas and attitudes are setting in, and that the world of to-morrow will be (a) very different … We are passing through one of the great transition epochs of history ; we are threatened with reaction on the one hand and with disintegration on the other. The old beacon lights are growing dimmer, and the torch of new ideas has to be kindled for our guidance.”
Smuts was extolling on his theory that mankind must automatically evolve and grow towards one wholeness. The individual moves towards a oneness. From this theory, which was lauded by Albert Einstein came Smuts' drive for the creation of the United Nationa and the Commonwealth, which he hoped would create a viable economic entity to counterbalance the USA, similar in style perhaps to Thabo Mbeki's hopes for a United Africa. While Smuts may have not foreseen the development of the Internet and sights such as Facebook as a unifying factor in the development of mankind it does fit in with his theory of us moving towards a unified platform. The advantage is that it is more representative of our individual voices than a governing body speaking on our behalves and the stronger our convictions as individual brands are we may just find, like everybody else, we are all unique. asa