Most of us have certain defining moments in our lives that make us stop to ponder that age-old question, “Why do I do what I do?” Whether you’re at the helm of a large corporation with thousands of employees or you sack groceries at the local neighborhood supermarket…we all have various reasons for the paths we take in life and at times it is important to reflect on the choices we make. One of those defining moments for me was standing in my office on the morning of September 11, 2001 and watching the events unfold on television regarding the terrorist attacks in New York City and the countless lives that were lost that day. On that day, it was no longer about meeting a print deadline or making sure enough ink pens were ordered or even making sure I got my car payment in the mail on time…it was all about ‘what am I doing to make a difference in the lives of others?’ That internal question defined a whole new way of thinking for me and changed the course of how I managed others.
For me, I quickly realized that there were no policies and procedures, no personnel manuals, no workplace training and no professional management courses that can replace your spoken “word”. I would even go as far to say that the days of cutting a business deal with a simple smile and a handshake were back – for me, at least. And looking back at that internal question of how am I making a difference, I knew that when I take away all of the glitz and glamor…my “word” was the most valuable tool I had to make a true difference.
As managers, it is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of business operations that we tend to forget that what we say and do affect many others around us – individual workers, multiple families, whole communities. It’s easy to get riled up and ticked off at upper management or your colleagues or your customers (yes, even your customers can tick you off); but if you want to make a true difference – don’t let those things steal your joy or your passion for doing what you do because your word IS your brand. When it comes right down to it…your ‘word’ – who you say you are – is all you have when you really want to impact and encourage your employees or when you are negotiating a business deal to bring jobs and revenue to your local community or when you’re trying to motivate others toward a common goal.
I experienced another one of those defining moments just a couple of weeks ago with the tragic loss of my 22 year old nephew. Realizing how we all have such a brief window of opportunity to mark our spot in this world and to make a difference in the lives of others is an energizing and rejuvenating jolt that should bring us all back to the core of why we do, what we do. There’s a quote by an anonymous writer that says, “You’re only as good as your word. Use them wisely, and stick by them. That’s capital worth investing in.” We all need to heed this saying and integrate its meaning into our lives.
So, I guess this blog post is geared toward encouraging you to do your very best in keeping your integrity in check and being true to who you say you are – so you can truly make a difference in the lives of those who cross your path – whether it be your employees, co-workers, friends or even family members. How you brand yourself speaks volumes to others. I challenge you to take some time this week and reflect on how you can make a difference and what you can be doing right now – today – to make that happen. Then, go mark your spot in this world!