Peter Wilson - March 2019
Today’s new digital life has changed many aspects of human behaviour, particularly amongst younger generations. The underlying values of good people haven’t changed but many outward facing characteristics have. It’s still important to have a positive and purposeful self image for a gainful life, and also to present and participate in experiences with others, actively and constructively.
Baby boomers like me were taught to do this with a strong spirit, sound work ethic, persistence and humility. Being instilled with such a personal positioning derived from parents who lived through the extensive destruction of a World War and a Great Depression. For them, a positive adult life was never about trumpeting a strong personal brand for yourself, but more about selfless and low profile pursuit of personal contributions towards what’s best for others around us, and to contribute to a more harmonious society.
Today the setting is much different through our global digital connections. People I have never heard of, living in Continents far far away, pursue the opportunity to connect with me on LinkedIn. The objective is to build a strong personal brand who you are, what you stand for, and whom you are connected to.
There is nothing wrong with this. We can all make decisions about how digitally accessible we choose to be, and what to put up on our own social media, or not.
In these instances, however, the fundamental values behind modern human behaviours haven’t actually changed. Your personal brand is best characterised by the opinions of others, and not those of yourself. You can sink yourself on social media with false and outrageous claims or derogatory language. Today’s multi-media life exposes us to more hyperbole, hubris and deceit in what some people can say about themselves.
The Board of Bank First has just had a performance review of all Directors. We have all ranked each other’s behaviours as Board members. Each of us opened up our personal final reports hoping that how each of us saw ourselves would be how others see us, but also to learn some extra positive insights. I found reading my own results to be a very positive experience on both fronts.
So work hard to build your personal brand. Don’t be daunted by the occasional bluff, bluster and bullying from the new noise makers of digital media or real life, but also listen carefully to what others whom you respect, say about you. This is, and always has been, the ultimate test for a good life itself, especially for those who hold or aspire to leadership roles.