Are You Driving your Bus?

Print PDF

By Shirley Anne Fortina


You are a walking / talking brand!

The way you dress, the way you communicate (both in person and over the phone), the way you present – all have an impact on your personal brand. Your brand in turn can be linked to your success.

Are you aware of your brand, and are you driving your brand?

We all have the choice to define ourselves, or to be defined by others. What do we want to be known for? What do others say about us? Personal branding is our promise of value and we need to be in the driving seat! To be in a position to define ourselves we need to know who we are and what we stand for.

We need to:

  • Become more self-aware; this will help build our confidence levels, increase the options that are open to us and help us manage any self-limiting beliefs;
  • Develop our presence and the impact that we have on others;
  • Be assertive: state what we want, what we need and the costs of not getting them;
  • Manage our career and our personal brand, which is 100% our responsibility;
  • Evaluate what we are passionate about, our skills and our values, and then be determined enough to take action.

How are you driving your bus? Are the distracting influences of day-to-day issues and stresses badly affecting how you cope, or are you in control of “your bus” – “your brand”?

We all need to take ownership of our lives to avoid being swept away by the challenges of our busy lives. For many of us, our lives and our happiness are determined by the subtle and not-so-subtle expectations of others. We let them drive our bus.

We all would have experienced this at some stage; for example, our parents wanting to live vicariously through us; our friends or life partners attempting to persuade us to do something their way; and even the typical expectations of the companies that we work for. And it’s easier to go with the flow than resist.

When we get to the point of self-determination, at which we take responsibility for our lives, then we drive our own bus. However, with responsibility comes accountability and the realisation that each decision we make carries with it a consequence of that decision. We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for the outcomes of our decisions. We cannot blame them for who or what’s on the bus, nor where the bus ends up. We are at the wheel and we have the map book (or TomTom)! It is up to us to decide where, when, where, why, with whom and how we drive the bus.

We all need to use our own set of unique skills, our strengths, our talents, our passions, our intellects, and not be influenced by others’ expectations. We need to find this sense of self, where we can answer not what we want but who we are, where we want to go, who we want to be, what is important to us, what we value and what we believe in. It is when we take time out of our overly busy schedules to slow down, to stop and think about these questions that we start to take control of the bus.

So what should we do? Well, we all know that speed kills – it kills creativity, fun, health and wellbeing, it increases stress levels and most importantly we miss out on the journey because we are going too fast. So let’s slow down and – dare I even say it? – Stop! Stop the bus and take the time NOW to invest in yourself. Start with some proactive self-reflection ­– it will be one of the most important activities that you will do in your lifetime. Self-reflection is the foundation to your life. Once you find that inner you, that’s when you can shine anywhere, any place, any time because it comes from within.

Self-Reflection

Norman Vincent Peale said ‘One of the greatest moments in anybody’s developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is’.

In a world that is constantly changing and providing us with challenges, honest self-reflection is key to our sanity, development and growth. We should regularly examine what has, and hasn’t, worked, despite how painful it may be to look in the mirror. Self-reflection helps us with direction, our communication and our life experiences.

For self-reflection, we need to stop, sit back with that glass of wine, coffee or tea and answer the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What do I want to do?
  • What is important to me?
  • What do I value?
  • What do I believe in?
  • What do I have to offer?
  • What are my attributes?
  • What are my dreams?
  • What do I want to experience?
  • What are my goals across my ‘wheel of life’ (mental, educational, health, social, cultural, spiritual, family, home, finance, career, etc.)?
  • What are my successes to date? (To answer this one we need to first define what success means to us, because it means different things to different people.)

Once we have stopped and thought about where we are at and where we want to go, we then need to set some SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound) to help us get there.