Thank you for sticking around, and also for doing the hard work required to build a powerful Brand: You. Take some time to reflect on your achievements. Celebrate a little. Things are about to get a bit scary.
That’s because our next virtue is courage.
The more we consult with leaders in organisations, the more we realise that a powerful personal brand has to include significant amounts of courage.
Important Note: Courageous people are not reckless. It is in fact not courageous to take part in extreme activities like climbing mountains without ropes, or swallowing burning swords. It might be entertaining, but that’s not what we mean by courage.
Real courage is the ability to stand for what you believe in, to make unpopular choices if it’s the right thing to do, and to act when you see others being wronged.
We’re often faced with these little choices on an almost daily basis. In a company meeting, a senior manager makes an obviously sexist remark, or the quiet person gets talked over yet again, or everyone wants to jump on another popular (but ultimately pointless) bandwagon.
These moments define your personal brand. It’s easy to go with the flow, or to remain silent. But it’s more powerful to make yourself heard, and to show up mediocrity or injustice where you find it.
Why is it so difficult to be a dissenting voice? One key reason is that we often over-estimate the potential consequences of speaking up for ourselves. There is a wealth of research, for instance, that suggests that women are especially vulnerable to this over-estimation. So if you are a woman, take note: you are probably over-estimating how bad it would be to speak up.
Your homework this time is to take some inspiration from courageous people. Look into books and movies on whistle-blowers. A great documentary on this topic is Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. If you haven’t watched it, give it a try.
We’ll take a look at the final Platonic virtue to develop for Brand: You: Justice