How I ended up recently at a Reform Jewish prayer service - when my community of origin would have urged me not to go - doesn't matter.
What matters is that for me it was a small but hugely significant step toward taking back my own religion. Rather than letting other people define it for me.
Disillusioned once, I told my aunt that I wanted to walk away from Judaism altogether. She responded quickly, "It's your heritage. You owe it to yourself to explore it and find your way."
My spiritual journey is not relevant to your life. What matters is that, on a quest for your personal brand, you are really dealing with who you are as a person, your identity. (As Jack Shaw stated in a comment to one of my blogs on GovLoop.com.) So you can't get away from the question of your moral code. As in: must have one.
"The promise you make is the promise that you must keep," they taught me at The Brand Consultancy. That's a moral thing. So when you are building a brand, the way you treat employees matters. The way you treat the environment matters. And of course the way you back up your product matters as well.
Can't have a logo without a corporate Ten Commandments.
Another time I encountered someone who knew me years ago, before my spiritual evolution had started. We had a brief interchange ending with her comment: "So you used to be Orthodox and now you are...nothing?"
I have to laugh as I write this. Wince even as I laugh. "Nothing?"
That's a matter of how you look at it. I feel at peace, close and connected more than ever. But she operates according to her moral code. It wasn't meant personally, more as a description of how a certain group would categorize me.
Here's another incident.
Recently I watched the South Carolina Republican debate. (Note: this is not an endorsement of any candidate or person and all opinions are my own.) Four men talked vociferously, each arguing that they were more "pro-life" than the next.
It was such a disturbing sight, watching them talk about the morality of a choice that is widely understood to belong essentially to the person who is carrying the fetus. Every abortion is a tragedy, and nobody is in favor of enabling people to irresponsibly go on fetus-killing sprees, but the labels here still seem a bit mixed up to me: "Pro-life" should mean taking care of all the lives affected by an unwanted pregnancy. Particularly the mother, who is already born and for whom the carrying of the fetus affects her physical and emotional health irrevocably.
Still I tried to ignore it and only focus on "the major issues." Then one of them said that the upcoming election would be an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade.
It was a shocking moment. I realized then and there that in every single circumstance you are making a moral choice. You can never separate "running a country" from "establishing a moral code." And you cast a vote in favor of one agenda or another.
It would be so easy if we could talk about personal branding as a matter of platform shoes vs. flats, or the right way to answer a set of interview questions. But the truth is that it comes right down to your own core values and how you practice them, or don't.
Doesn't mean that you have to be the nicest person in the world. Does mean you have to grapple with the question of ethics. And come out someway, somewhere on the other side.
Have a good day everyone, and good luck in your own personal journeys.
Image by Kalyan Chakravarthy via Flickr