I am a huge Lord Shiva devotee. A few days ago, I visited the Somnath temple in Gujarat. I sat in the temple undisturbed, soaking his aura for a good fifteen minutes. Then I explored the imposing campus, filled with grass and tiles – both of which were kind on my bare feet – and smaller temples. But the statues of Lord Shiva in various events of His life stood out. One statue was of Him with His wife and children. Another one was where sages, hands folded in deference, surrounded Him. A third was half Him and half Parvathi, His wife. Yet another one showed Him helping the Moon God when the latter was struck by a curse. To say that these statues took my breath away is an understatement.
Lord Shiva resides in the snowy peaks of Mount Kailash. He is known as the Lord of destruction. But He is also the Lord of contentment, a hermit. When He moves from the peak of Kailash to the river banks Kashi, He becomes Shankar, the householder.
I experienced a revelation about self improvement while watching these statues. Shiva’s identity of Himself is important. But equally significant is how others look at Him. It’s not just about who He thinks he is, but also about what He is for us.
What do others think of you?
Every day, we encounter people who claim to be experts. They humblebrag, covertly trying to tell people how awesome they are. They disguise self promotion as personal experiences in conversations with others. For them, this is personal brand building. Somehow I think that we have diluted the meaning of the term ‘brand building’. But I digress.
It’s amazing to hear people’s stories. But when it’s time for action, many are unable to walk the talk. And that’s where the problems begin.
Yes, you may say, “I don’t care of what people think. I know what I am.”
That attitude is good. But it’s only half the truth. We are not experts unless people approach us for help without us promoting ourselves. We cannot demand respect unless others view us in a similar light.
Do people see in you what you see in yourself? Do you stand for something larger than yourself? Only then will people want to associate themselves with you. That is a true band.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos
If you stop promoting yourself, will people still approach you for help? Will they inform friends and acquaintances about your skills and abilities? Will they help you in return without batting an eyelid when you ask for it?
How should others perceive you?
Each statue at Somnath was proof that Lord Shiva did not claim to be the Lord of contentment. Others viewed Him like that. Sages sought His wisdom, devatas sought His protection, people reached out to Him for help in improving their lives. All this time, His family (Parvathi, Ganesh and Kartikeya) stood by His side with unflinching devotion.
Instead of building visibility, build credibility. If you build the former, a smarter ‘personal brand salesperson’ will leapfrog you. But if you build credibility first, you will never become obsolete. This the most effective technique to improve yourself and pursue professional development also. Building visibility makes you say, “Hey look at me. I’m awesome, and I’ll tell you how.” But a reputation based on credibility makes others say, “Look at her. She’s awesome and I’ll tell you how.” That is when you have arrived. Think Steve Jobs and MS Dhoni. Or Shradha Sharma. They didn’t achieve success by selling themselves. They did it by impacting people’s lives. Don’t sell yourself. Don’t sell your services. Don’t pursue accolades, pursue happiness, unless your happiness is dependent on your accolades. Then you have got it all wrong. Focus on the smaller details, but don’t prioritize them over helping others, writes Ali Mese. Instead, add value to others’ lives. Do it in small steps first. Then take giant leaps. Every mammoth accomplishment started with a small step. So go ahead. Take it.
Value makes the world better
You have the potential to impact in people’s lives by doing what you love. Thousands of people out there need what you can offer. When you help them, they become your spokespersons. Strangers will then reach out to you for help. Competition will find it tough to keep up. And the people you helped will readily stand by your side when you need them. Sometimes, even without you asking them.
The world isn’t an ugly place. It is beautiful. And you can witness this beauty in Mother Nature and human beings. Just start with giving value instead of expecting things first. Remember, it’s not about what you say you are. It’s about what others think you are.
How are you going to go out there and achieve purposes larger than yourself?