There was TV show when I was young about a US Army Cavalry Captain drummed out of the service for cowardice. A deed he did not commit. I still know the song and one line goes like this: “What will you do when you’re branded, will you fight for the name?” Have you ever felt like you were “branded” and as you walked around? Like everyone knew something about you and it changed the way they treated you? Was it untrue? The show lasted several years, with each episode negated the coward brand.
When I think about the word “branded”, I go back to my cowboy days on the ranch. When branding day came, it came early in the morning with starting the fires. After getting the fire started, it was placing the irons in the red coals until they, too, were red hot. Next, comes roping the calves away from the herd and pinning them down. Hearing the bawling of the mothers who knew what was coming next still haunts me. The next sound, a sizzle and the smell of the iron as it burns into the flesh and hair of the calf. That branding smell is something you never quite get out of your nostrils, ever. The brand will never change on that hide.
Branding your business is just as memory making. When people hear your name, your company name, your product, or your service, what flashes into their minds? The branding of a company takes thought, research, and imagination. Once the brand becomes recognizable, changing the brand usually means starting all over with a new business and a new business model, new clients.
We brand people, too! Does that shock you? I know your mom, like mine said these words, “Don’t judge the book by its cover”, or “Sticks and stones can break your bones but names will never hurt you”. The opportunity is that names stick and being classified sticks.
The branding of people is different. Once branded by others, we have a choice, to stand and re-brand or accept what has been branded on us. At this stage of life, I wear several brands. Some are hidden under old brands, some I am proud of, some I am not, and some I even earned.
I was branded at an early age. I did not realize it until later in life. The fortunate part for me was that a good friend and mentor told me that everyone has a brand of some sort that is on them. I myself was branded at an early age of not being the sharpest knife in the drawer by a teacher and my mother agreed. Teachers know these things. So I reacted to the expectations and reacted accordingly. Mother knows best?
My mentor went on to tell me that each time we are branded we have a wonderful opportunity to move ahead on the next great adventure. “What Great Adventure?” I asked.
He continued on. “Re-branding is a natural part of life. You get to answer some new questions that are only yours and yours alone. What do you really want to be? What do you really want to do? Have you discovered your gifts and talents and how to use them? Where do you want to go? Who you become is up to you. You have a choice. Be miserable and accept the hand you were dealt or tell the dealer you would like a fresh hand. The adventure is that new insights added to the past insight to move you to the next level.” Change is possible.
Let’s look at this situation another way. On the ranch when a calf is branded, the cherry red iron is placed on the hide of the calf. The brand does not change. It will be that way for as long as the cow lives. The calf will never have control of changing that brand. It labels where it belongs.
People on the other hand can change their brand and do. I went from not the sharpest knife in the drawer to someone feared by the management at the company I worked for. I was the union steward. I was good. I never lost a grievance.
But, one day I woke up and realized that instead of fighting against the management, I was protecting people that should have been fired and would have been without a big union protecting them. Employees lacking good work habits. I had the opportunity to really help my union brothers and sisters by weeding out the unwanted. I realized that the rest of the group was carrying the work load and having to work harder because I was protecting the useless. Most of them were not in the union, but had the same rights and access to the steward as those who paid dues. How much money does that cost a company when part of the employees work harder to cover for those who do little of the work? How many raises did the worker miss paying the wages for everyone?
I handed in my union steward card. I re-branded myself again. I left where I had worked 20 years and went to be an office manager in another building. I had to re-brand and move on. The people who were my friends in the past now did not talk to me, called me things I will not repeat, and there was no going away party given for me.
The realization was this: people followed others that spoke well, treated others with respect, and sought to be a helping hand to all. This sent me on a new adventure.
Was re-branding myself easy? NO! Was it the most fun? NO! Was it the most exciting thing that I continue to do? YES! Today I look at the chance of re-branding daily. Some of my brands do not change. The moral and value code stays the same. I remain trustworthy, loyal, and respectful. The learning and searching continues on daily.
The next great adventure (re-branding) was on to a new world of training others. This was the greatest responsibility so far I had been in entrusted with. Setting the example each and every day of how to do their jobs as well as be a representative of the company on and off the clock. From there it has been building new companies for others as well as my family. The only thing that has stayed constant is that, as you change, improve, and re-brand, you will grow. As you grow you have an opportunity to help others by being that mentor, that friend.
How were you branded? Are you still wearing that brand or did you get a new one? All of us have an audience that we want to be heard by, to share ourselves with. Mine is simple and hard to do. Teach personal accountability and personal leadership to everyone that I am blessed to come in contact.
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D.W. Dick Powell Leadership Wrangler 727-422-1833