I think that we might be losing our way.
- Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
- Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln's Own Stories
16th president of US (1809 – 1865)
Public relations and social media tools are powerful ways to communicate character. The character of a company or an individual. But it seems that more and more people are trying to use these tools to manipulate the shadows of brand and reputation.
It is one of the reasons I am so uncomfortable with a focus on personal branding since it leads to an undue focus on the self rather than developing and communicating character.
It is sending the wrong message about what matters.
In a survey of 1,068 college students by SDSU Psychology Professor Jean Twenge and Youth Pulse 57 percent agreed that their generation are self-promoting, narcissistic, overconfident and attention-seeking and 40 percent agree that being so is helpful for “succeeding in a competitive world.”
The youth of America are looking at each other and us and determining that the only way to get ahead is by navel gazing.
A better model is for the company (or individual) to develop strong values that they can live into and put all of their focus on that. Instead we seem to focus on our BRAND or REPUTATION — which should instead be evident through living out our values.
I recently heard someone make the point that your values are what make you unique.
I couldn't agree more.
By authentically living these values “out loud” you can differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
We need to stop manipulating the shadows and start working on the tree.
How can we live our values out loud online? What does that look like to you?