The Lesson of the Branding Iron
To Herd Or Not to Herd? That is the Question…
How do you feel about being one of the herd? The people who are most drawn towards me tend to be either writers or entrepreneurs, and I’ve noticed a huge difference between the two groups. The entrepreneurs, on the whole, are desperate to network. They love making new contacts, extending their reach, and becoming part of different groups, gangs, tribes and all the rest. Writers? Not so much.
Again, within the writing category, there are differences. Non-fiction writers NEED to network, because they need to research all the latest events to make sure that their books are current. Novelists and poets though are a different breed. They are gradually moving out of their caves, blinking into the sunlight, and attending tweet ups and the like. For the most part, though, they seek out the fringes. They observe. They draw comparisons and analyse. They think about stuff. Mull it over. Ferment.
Now, I’m a bit of an oddity, in that I possess the brooding and analytical garret-dwelling nerdish hermit idiosyncrasies of your everyday tortured novelist. However, I kind of like parties and I have a sneaking suspicion that most people might actually be pretty cool if you got to know them. The part of me that loves to think big thoughts and stand alone on windswept hills – contemplating whether word and meaning really are as indivisible as two sides of the same piece of paper – struggles with the ‘ra! ra! ra!’ concept of the herd. Thousands of identical beings, moving together with world domination on their minds … freaky stuff! Freaked me out enough to write a novel about it, in fact.
Here’s the thing, though. Groups only look weird from the outside. When you’re actually IN them, they’re lovely, safe, inspiring and … bigger than what you have to offer as an individual. Perhaps.
I have an American friend who was tattooed with the letters of his fraternity. Branded forever. Mind you, it’s a lifetime commitment so it may not be a big deal, but if you’re a bit of an MLM junkie and you brand yourself with the symbol of every business you hop to … what happens to the integrity of your hide? Not very pretty.
Who Will You Allow to Brand You?
So, how do you get around this conundrum… that groups provide strength and better support, reach, and visibility than you could have on your own, but the branding iron doesn’t wash off if you hop around?
- Don’t hop around. Easy. Pick a business that is right for you and fits with the person you already are.
- If you are a freaky ‘outsider’ eccentric with your own style, embrace that. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of a group. In fact, it means that you can bring something to the group that nobody else can. Don’t be scared to ‘baaa’ when everyone else ‘moos’ (or vice versa). You might find that the founders of the company hear you and change things. Don’t do it all the time, though, or you risk not learning anything from all the others in the group.
- If you’ve always roamed with the herd, and found that ‘safety in numbers’ proves true, maybe you could consider being a little less safe. Next time you feel the group is moving in the wrong direction, consider speaking up. Nothing that bad will happen to you, and people may appreciate that you are finally stepping up and making a contribution. Unbeknownst to you, people DO actually notice when you’re always the ‘yes’ man. It’s a bit lazy… and you know it. 🙂
- BRAND YOURSELF. Grab a branding iron and shove a massive great big brand on your hide, so big that there’s no room for any other branding. Be yourself in all things. Take your true self into all scenarios. Bless the room with your presence, BUT allow others also to bless you with theirs. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and when a group of individuals with a common goal unite, there is a wattage of energy that your one lightbulb cannot emulate, however hard it tries.