Be The Person You Needed When You Were Younger

A few months back, I gave a talk about developing your personal branding to group of executives. A gentleman approached me after the talk and shared a few of his experiences conducting business internationally. After some great back and forth, he finally said, “You know what Michael, most of the executives I do business with… they all have dad issues.

Dad issues?” I thought to myself.

He continued to say, “To me, there’s a cycle in life, a nearly invisible one that few people talk about. Executives who are motivated to achieve great things are trying to find success by being the opposite of the person his/her dad was when the executive was growing up.

Interesting perspective.

His comment immediately made me think of the work I’ve done with clients around identifying patterns of recurring challenges the client endured in his/her teenage years, twenties, and early thirties. Forget about money, fame, recognition, fitting in, looking a certain way, going to a specific school, working at a certain company, etc., what matters more is your ability to reflect on your teenage years, twenties, and early thirties and then finding patterns of what challenged (made you upset, sad, angry, mad) you. Once you can pinpoint the things that challenged you, you can choose to become the person who helps others (typically younger than you) overcome those very same challenges for themselves.

If you do this, you’ll be highly happy with, motivated by, and engaged in your life.

Fast forward to this past Saturday when I was giving a talk about personal branding to Executive MBA students at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. I walked the group through a series of questions designed to reveal meaningful information from their past, who they are in the present, and their hopes for the future. I helped them search for patterns of challenges, values, interests, motivators, and behavioral styles. I gave them examples of personal intention, ambition, and value proposition statements designed to help my clients feel a deeper connection to their life’s mission (intention), their short-term 3-year goals (ambition), and what makes them unique in the marketplace (value proposition).

Towards the end of the talk, I mentioned the “dad issues” conversation and put a graphic on the screen –

Be the person you needed when you were younger

Because many of the executives in the room were getting a degree to foster significant change, growth, and clarity in their lives, I think this one simple quote impacted them deeply. The lack of verbal responses coupled with significant nonverbal responses makes me believe so.

As you plan for 2016, think deeply about the value of building meaningful relationships. Think about the results yielded when you learn by doing. Think about the problem you want to solve and love more than your original solution. Schedule time to generate thick value for people around you and give them an equal chance to be unequal. Fear mediocrity more than failure. Change is inevitable, growth is optional. Choose growth.

Reflect on your “dad issues”, become the person you needed when you were younger, and make 2016 your best year yet.