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Behind the Scenes Tour

Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 07:30AM by Registered CommenterLon Langston in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Blue industrial tile floors, with drains every few feet, painted cinder block walls, exposed HVAC ducts and plumbing, overhead. Through open doors, we could see normal-looking offices, with normal-looking (though I’m sure very smart) people and normal-looking office furniture. My first impression was that it looked really average. It was clean, but unremarkable. In one area, off to the side, were several Christmas trees, just sitting on the floor.  

In January, my family and I did the Beluga Whale Experience at The Georgia Aquarium. As a bonus, we got a behind-the-scenes tour. The hidden corridors of the Aquarium were fine, but, in contrast to the beautifully-designed and carefully-managed look of the public area, strikingly ordinary.

After college, I lived in a few different apartments, with roommates. But, at some point, I got tired of having roommates and tired of living 25 miles from work, so I rented a one-bedroom apartment, near work, and lived alone. Living alone had its advantages. I’m an introvert. Living alone made it easy to recharge, but that’s another story.

During this time, I met my future wife. We lived in different cities, so I didn’t see her every day, usually just on weekends. When she was coming to visit, I would clean the apartment. It would be spotless. And not just clean, but squared away - a place for everything and everything in its place. I would even line the coke cans and beer bottles up, in the frig, in soldier-straight rows, with all the labels facing out. My wife later told me it felt like a hotel.

There was a storage closet in that apartment. What my future bride did not know was that that closet was an over-filled, disorganized mess. It was awful. In order to make a good impression, I crammed all my disorder behind the scenes. I was surprised to see the Christmas trees in the corridor at the Aquarium, but that was nothing compared to my closet.

The image you present to the world is your personal brand. It is right to cultivate your personal brand, but also cultivate integrity. The brand we show the world should reconcile with our closets. This is a process. Integrity must be built, brick by brick. The bricks are our values. The most important step is for each of us to know what he or she values, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. We can work toward integrity when we are consciously aware of each of our values. Like the old Rubik’s Cube, it takes a bunch of moves to get everything to match up. 

Perfection is not the goal. It cannot be, because it’s unachievable. And it should not be, because being flawless would be un-relatable. That’s where humility fits. In retrospect, I should have said, “Honey, I want everything to be perfect for you, but have a look in this closet, also.”

Ironically, the less alignment there is between my hidden corridors and my personal brand, the less believable and effective my brand is. We each express values in the world, whether we realize it or not. The only way to know how we are impacting the world is to identify, understand and prioritize our values.

Obviously, there are things you don’t show the world. Transparency stops where discretion begins, but in the expression of values, being aligned, bottom to top, is what works.

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare

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