Aligning Your Brand with Your Personal Values Equals True Success
I can remember when I first saw the movie Wall Street, there is a poignant moment when Charlie Sheen’s character after earning all of his money, winning the beautiful girl and buying his new condo was shown staring out the window in the middle of the night asking himself . . . “who am I.”
It was a powerful point in the film because after getting all that he had apparently wanted he didn’t know who he was, or for that matter for what he stood.
To an outsider looking in, Sheen’s character had arrived! This young upstart was in the early stages of the apex of his success with nothing but greatness awaiting him. Of course the character’s fatal flaw was that he had knowingly and willing compromised his personal values to achieve the success that now appeared to imprison him. In the end it was the disconnect between his outward brand and his personal values that was his ultimate undoing, which showed itself in the form of a very public and embarrassing downfall.
Saddened by the news of Whitney Houston’s recent passing, I was again reminded of the above scene because of the difficulty in understanding how someone with such a special talent, who was adored the world over, could come to such a tragic end. It would appear that what we saw and who she really was conflicted with each other.
I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live up to an outward facing image that doesn’t align with who you really are. In the end, it just doesn’t work.
While perhaps not on the same scale of both celebrity as well as the tragedy of a life that was ended far too soon, how we align our values with our brand is nonetheless of equal importance as it determines our living legacy in the here and now. What do I mean by living legacy?
First, creating a legacy requires a fundamental shift in the way we think about ourselves in relation to success. This is not about being the fastest rat in the race or the one who knows how to play “the game” better than anyone else. This is about acknowledging and honoring who you really are and aligning your goals with the opportunity to feel satisfied with your daily contributions. When you operate from this platform of strength, not only will you improve your chances of success, but you also will greatly enhance the happiness you experience along the way.
Second, all the success you achieve will mean very little if your brand (your authentic self) and values are not aligning with the other. Eventually and sometimes tragically, this disconnect between the two will come to the surface and when it does, you will be faced with a legacy that no matter how great your prior accomplishments, they will pale beside the revealing light that will show you were not true to yourself.
In the case of Sheen’s Wall Street character, his moment of truth (or departure from truth) was when he was faced with Gekko’s ultimatum to do that which he knew was wrong or walk away, and he chose to turn his back on who he really was with the word’s “okay Mr. Gekko, you got me.”
Unlike the movies, life rarely provides us with such a moment of transitional clarity. Never having the privilege of meeting Whitney Houston, it’s hard to say when she turned away from whom she was and whom she was meant to be, given her amazing gift. However she did turn away. Sadly, and tragically, after she had died, Houston’s career and music experienced a renaissance that unfortunately she is not around to enjoy. In this regard, the money and the posthumous fame are of little value to her family and those around the world who were so moved by her incredible voice and presence.
So what is the moral of the story?
If your brand truly reflects your personal values and aligns with your goals (not someone else’s vision of who and what you should be), you will have created a magical harmony from within and will present a unified and sustaining image that will neither disappoint nor surprise but instead endure. This is the ultimate legacy.