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A Giant Leap, One Small Step at a Time

Bob Little 

December 23, 2016

History is littered with famous “quotes” but Neil Armstrong’s, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he was about to set foot on the Moon in 1969 is probably the only quote to be marked down as “famous” before it was even spoken.

The quote memorably marked a moment of change – for the entire human race. Yet, people continue to be human in many ways despite these changes, and that, believes the motivational business speaker John Hotowka, makes us bizarrely contrary.

He asks, “Why is it we leave motor vehicles worth large amounts of money on the driveways and lock up our worthless junk in the garage? How come people go to see tarot card readers and have their palms read and yet we never see the headline Psychic Wins Lottery?

By far the weirdest thing people do relates to our life skills and personal development. It seems we’re constantly looking for new skills and techniques, but we haven’t mastered the old ones yet – and some of those are pretty basic ones, too!”

John reveals that, recently, when he was speaking at a conference, one of the other speakers talked about some steps that the audience could take to manage change effectively. He says, “During lunch, some of the delegates complained they hadn’t learned anything new from that speaker. So I asked if they thought the techniques and ideas the speaker had mentioned made sense and would work to help them manage change. They agreed it would.

I asked if the techniques and tools were simple and could be easily integrated into their everyday working lives. Again, they nodded their heads. But when I asked if they used any of these tools or techniques or anything similar, I was greeted with silence. After a few seconds, their heads shook.

The truth is, the basic principles of almost any topic – self-mastery, resilience, success mind-set, negotiation, sales, and so on – are the same. Rarely is there anything new.

The reason why so many people don’t apply them once they know about them is that there’s usually so much information they don’t know where to start. Or they make a start but then, for one reason or another, they lose focus and enthusiasm.

John likens the process to losing weight. He speaks from experience, having lost 100 pounds (45kg) and maintained that weight loss for some time.

“At the beginning of a weight loss plan, most people dramatically reduce what they eat and increase their exercise regime but, after a few weeks – if not sooner they go back to old habits,” he says. “The best way to make any change is the same way youd eat a big salami – one slice at a time.

If you have a goal, write down all the actions you need to do to achieve it. The goal is the ‘salami’ and the actions are the slices.’

“I suggest you start by choosing the smallest action that’ll have the biggest impact. Using this technique, I made small changes in the type and amount of food I ate. I also made small changes in my exercise regime. Then I kept it up – one small step at a time.

Maybe this principle can be applied to the lessons in personal branding highlighted by the recent U.S. presidential election. Having examined both candidates’ personal branding successes and challenges, the brand strategist Karen Leland, author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build, and Accelerate Your Brand, suggests that the success of any brand in politics, business or elsewhere – relies on how it performs across six key dimensions:

  • Develop your brand by design, not default. Karen says, “Know where you are so you can discern where you need to go. Everyone should start by assessing their current personal brand and be truthful about the degree to which it exists by design or default. Then they should take stock of that current brand’s impact. Is it producing the reputation you desire and creating the environment and responses youre looking for?
  • Anchor statement. Karen says, “Whats the go-to description of who you are and what you do? It’s sometimes called an elevator pitch. Everyone must be able to present their brand in less than a minute. Pay attention to how your anchor statement is resonating with your desired audience.
  • Unique branding proposition. Karen says, “What is it about what you do, or how you do it, that makes you unique? Setting out how your brand speaks to your audience’s needs, and the unique way you address those needs, is critical to creating an effective personal brand.
  • Brand tone and temperament. Karen says, “What’s the consistent mood, quality, character, and manner you bring to all your interactions? What you say has power, but the way you say it your tone has equal impact. Everyone must know how their brand tone is coming across – online and off – and adjust where necessary. Remember that taking any tone to an extreme will always backfire.
  • Signature story. Karen says, “Why do you do what you do? What’s the essential story that brought you to this place? Never underestimate the power of a good story. A strong – and truthful narrative about where you came from and whats influenced you to do the work you now do can connect you with your customers, employees and colleagues at a deeper level. Your brand must be more than a single soundbite or pithy elevator pitch. Otherwise, you could damage your brand when things don’t go as you planned. The best brands feature multiple, complementary messages that, together, form a complex, in-depth communication.
  • Signature services. Karen says, “What are your core competencies? Know what your brand offers, how it stacks up against your competitors and craft a way to talk about it that inspires confidence in others. Your brand rests on your values and commitments – and is enforced by actions as well as words.

These lessons may not help you win a presidential election but they can help you to manage change and take the giant leap of achieving your goals, one small step at a time.

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