Reinvention: Just Another Plastic Spoon?

Plastic SpoonHave you ever tried to reinvent yourself? Chances are, if you ever considered or tried it, you found yourself stymied. What exactly do you need to do to create a new you? In what ways would you be different, if you succeeded?

Frankly, I really don’t believe in personal reinvention. In fact, even as a personal brand strategist, I don’t much care for the idea of creating a personal brand. As I see it, any effort undertaken to develop and project a contrived image into the world is pretty much the same a developing a substitute to stand in for you.

This is not a new idea.

If you listen to classic rock, you may be familiar with The Who’s song, “Substitute.” Rumored to be their desire to be a substitute for the Rolling Stones, the lyrics are a wonderful commentary on the blurring of image with reality:

“But I’m a substitute for another guy
I look pretty tall but my heels are high
The simple things you see are all complicated
I look pretty young, but I’m just back-dated, yeah”

Being a substitute, band co-founder Pete Townshend wrote, is like being born with a plastic spoon in your mouth.

If you agree with me, you probably can see that “reinventing” oneself or “creating” a personal brand is at best very hard, and at worst like sentencing yourself to living inside a box determined by limited choices that may not let you bring out your very best.

So, what to do?

Well, I know that it may seem simplistic, but the first step is to see who you really are. Some ways to do this are:

  • Do some introspective exercises that reveal your values, vision, passions, purpose, and strengths;
  • Get feedback from other people, either by asking them directly or by using a survey instrument;
  • Spend time discovering and developing your story, and find the themes that you bring to your career and life successes.
  • Answer some basic questions about your career, including what you most love to do, who you most want to work with or serve, and how you can make a difference for them;
  • Taking some time to focus on some transformative behaviors that allow you to make a difference. *

And finally, if you find yourself getting stuck, it’s a good idea to work with a coach or trusted advisor. And if you’e interested in coaching, contact me to learn more.

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*  Yes, I know. I linked to a Seth Godin post about…ahem…ways to reinvent yourself. Forget that – but do look at the behaviors!!


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