Judging Others – A Lesson in the Desert

The Biker

Several years ago I decided to make the long trip to southeastern Arizona to visit my father. We had a nice visit and when it was time for me to drive home I decided to take a different route home to see some of the country I hadn’t seen before.

The Breakdown

My trip across the desert was going fine until I made a stop and saw steam coming from the engine of my car. I added water to the radiator and tried to continue on but before long the engine began steaming and overheating again. I tried that remedy a few more times but realized I would never make it home at that rate. I limped into the next small town and talked to a mechanic. It turned out my water pump was going bad. Unfortunately they were closing in a half hour and told me they couldn’t help me.

I had tools with me so I thought I would try and replace the water pump myself. I bought one at the local auto parts store and then looked for a place I could work on my car. I found an abandoned rest-stopa mile or so outside of town and pulled into the empty parking lot and began to work on my car.

To my dismay, I couldn’t loosen the bolts on the water pump. I tried and tried but they just wouldn’t give. The sun was about to go down and I was getting very discouraged. I just wanted to get home and it didn’t look like I was going to make it.

The Stranger

As I was standing there, staring at my engine, I heard the sound of a motorcycle. I looked up and saw a man on a Harley Davidson heading in my direction across the empty parking lot. He was wearing a leather vest, leather pants, a bandanna on his head, earrings in his ears, various tattoos on his body, and chains hanging off his clothes.

I assessed the situation. Here I was all alone in the middle of nowhere and here was this man coming towards me that didn’t look like the kind of guy I wanted to meet up with. I remember thinking to myself, “I am going to die right here!” I was sure he must be carrying a gun and was going to rob me and then shoot me, execution style. My wife was going to be a widow. My kids where going to be fatherless. I even started imagining what my funeral was going to be like. I was scared!

He parked his Harley nearby and walked over towards me. I was bracing for the worst.

He asked me, “What seems to be the problem?”

The Near-Death Experience

“Oh,” I thought, “he’s just softening me up before robbing and killing me.” I told him my situation and instead of killing me, he helped me. I was shocked! He told me to loosen the radiator cap just enough to let the pressure off the cooling system and I should be able to make it home fine. And guess what, that’s exactly what I did and it worked just as he said. I made it home without further problems.

I remember as I was driving home how bad I felt that I had misjudged this man. He was really a very nice guy – just a bit different than me in his choice of clothing and jewelry. It taught me a great lesson to not be so quick in judging others just because they may be different than me in some way. It taught me that I need to be more accepting of people for who they are.

The Challenge

My challenge to you is to be more aware of how you are treating others. Do you treat all people with equal respect and kindness or are there some groups that you tend to treat differently than others? Ask yourself why that is and resolve to change. Work more on being inclusive, not exclusive. Look past the differences and see the common good in all.

Marketing Yourself, Part 4 – Improve Your Message

 

Your marketing message

(Note: This is Part 4 of a four-part series on Marketing Yourself)

Communicate your verbal message with care

People not only judge you by how you look but also by what you say and how you say it. How you talk about yourself, your work, your boss or even your competition sends a message about you. If you aren’t careful, your verbal communication can undo any other self-marketing efforts you may have made.

What kind of message are you communicating?

When you are around others, what kind of message do you bring to them? Is it positive or negative? Are you someone who continually complains about life, rarely having anything good to say? Do people like to have you around or do they cringe when they see you coming? Are you the storm cloud that goes around raining on everyone’s parade or are you the type of person that spreads cheer and sunshine? How you communicate is critical to building a positive reputation.

How you judge others will be how others judge you

We read a verse in the Bible that says, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” This is good advice for human relations too! Whenever you are in the process of judging others it gives other people a clue of how to judge you.

I have had the opportunity to counsel a number of married couples on the verge of divorce. I have noticed that whenever a husband or wife starts to tell me all the horrible, mean and nasty things the other partner has done, I learn more about the person who is doing the talking than the person they are talking about.

The repelling nature of complaining and criticizing

Complaining and criticizing give a bad impression. Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable and unpleasant it is to be in the presence of a chronic complainer? For me, to be around someone like that is like listening to fingernails dragged across a chalkboard. I just want it to stop or to get away from it. No only do people not like it but they are smart enough to subconsciously reason that if you are so negative about life and everyone around you then you must also think the same about yourself. If that’s the case then why would I want to associate with you?

Be of good cheer

We are told eight times in the Bible to “be of good cheer.” Usually this was told to people facing fairly dire circumstances. Proverbs 17:22 teaches: “A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” Let the message from your mouth be positive and cheerful and it too can be like medicine to others.

A wise man made this statement:

“In my lifetime I have seen two world wars plus Korea plus Vietnam and all that you are currently witnessing. I have worked my way through the depression and managed to go to law school while starting a young family at the same time. I have seen stock markets and world economics go crazy and have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which causes quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process.

“So I am frank to say tonight that I hope you won’t believe all the world’s difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do…” – Howard W. Hunter (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter p. 202)

Upgrade your personal marketing message

Things may seem bad and even if they are you don’t need to go around continually telling everyone just how terrible things are. Every cloud has a silver lining. Look for it. Find it and focus on the good and positive things in life. Make the message you communicate to everyone around you be one that is pleasant and uplifting. You are judged by it. Your reputation is built on it. Create a positive self-marketing message and people will want to be around you, help you and do business with you.

What is Your Personal Brand?

My Personal Brand

What is Branding?

One thing that companies do to promote a product is what is called “branding” or “building the brand.” Whenever you think of a brand such as Coca Cola, Apple, or Nike, certain thoughts and ideas run through your mind. You have an image of what these companies represent and what their products are like. Companies spend millions of dollars building and developing their brand.

For example, when you hear the name Apple, what comes to your mind? My first thought is of the Apple logo. Then thoughts and images of some of Apple’s products run through my mind such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad and iMac. Then I think of Apple’s reputation of making beautifully designed, high quality products that anybody can use. This is what “branding” does – it creates thoughts, feelings, perceptions and images that are linked to a specific product or company.

Your Own Personal Brand

Like it or not, you are creating your own personal brand on a daily basis. Your personal brand is made up of the thoughts, feelings, perceptions and images that people think of when they think of you. The corporate world spends a ton of money managing and building their individual brands. What have you done lately to build your brand?For that matter, do you even know what your brand is? When someone thinks of you, what do they think?

Everyone Has a Brand

I have three friends that each have unique personal brands. My friend Mat is known for being just about the nicest guy around. He is always helping people and would give you the shirt off his back if you asked him. My friend Travis is known as a go-getter, very motivated and business-like. He also loves the outdoors and gives the impression of a rugged, strong man. My third friend, Colin, has a much different personal brand. Everything he owns, uses or is involved with is of extreme high quality and also very expensive. Everything he does, he does with class.

Think for a moment about some of the people that you know. You’ll see that there are certain traits about each person that immediately come to mind. They may be a pain to be around. Maybe they are fun or funny or pleasant or self-centered or giving. Whatever comes to mind is their personal brand. It’s who they are to you and others.

You Are Creating Your Brand Every Day

The same thing happens when people think about you. What is your brand? When someone thinks of you, what do they think of? People who know you have already sized you up and judged you. You are developing your personal brand every day by the way you deal with and interact with others. Writer Howard Hodgson said, “Whatever business you are in, you are in a business of relationships. That’s why your reputation is your greatest asset.”

You need to understand what your personal brand is and make sure it’s what you want it to be. Is it the brand you want? Are there things about you that you need to work on and change?

Protect and Manage Your Brand

Corporations are very concerned with building, managing and controlling their brands. They will go to great lengths to make sure nothing taints or damages their brand. How are you doing with your own brand? Are you careful with it? Do you make sure you don’t damage it by doing stupid things or being inconsistent in your life? Your personal brand is what others perceive who you are. Is it what you want it to be? If not, then I encourage you to take the steps you need to repair, protect and manage your brand.