Sometimes I think about the difference between doing something and being that thing. I blog, ergo, I am a blogger. I write, therefore I am a writer. Right? I don't know. I run and I definitely consider myself a runner even though I haven't run all winter and up until 3 years ago, I thought running was something I simply couldn't do.
Is it really that simple, though? If someone were to ask if I sing, I'd say "Yeah, I sing up a storm in the car." But I would never say I'm a singer. (And neither would anyone who has been in the car with me.) Do you have to be good at something to label yourself as such?
OK, wow...this is so not where I intended to go with this post, but I love it when I start typing and a new truth comes out. The ironic thing is that I've been pondering spirituality for a couple of years now and if I were to label myself, I say I'm closer to Buddhist than anything else. I'm a pretty bad Buddhist, but that doesn't stop me from saying that's what I am. Would a better Buddhist scoff at my self-labeling? Would a real Buddhist scoff at anything? Scoffing seems very un-Buddhist like. These are the very questions that make me a bad Buddhist, I think. But you know what? I am A-OK with that.
Anyhow, getting back to what I intended to say...over the last couple of years it seems everyone has started talking about personal brand. It is apparently a big deal, and every blogger worth her salt is considering how each post builds an online persona (which might be and probably often is different from the real life persona). When the topic comes up, I have two reactions. The first is, "Sweet fancy Moses, my online brand sucks! There's so much of this and that, too much nonsense. Where's my focus? Where's my purpose?? I am not a blogger, I am a total poser!" (Yeah, I know no one uses "poser" anymore.) This is accompanied by hand-wringing and a facial expression best described as "vexed."
My second reaction is a bit more subdued. Here's how it goes: from an upright and relaxed position, simultaneously raise both shoulders approximately one inch. Return shoulders to their resting state. No need to repeat. That's right, part of me just doesn't care about my personal brand. I'm not out to make money off my blog, accumulate a huge readership, promote my business* or new book** or otherwise get famous. I don't want to be Scoble or Dooce. (Not that there's anything wrong with them - we just have different motivations. I think.) I just want to be me, and so far, being me is an inconsistent and often contradictory hodge-podge. But everything I know about brand emphasizes consistency and alignment. It is about focus, about doing one thing and doing it well. Soooo not me.
And let's face it, between parenting a six-year old (who, upon the first loosening of an incisor insisted he could no longer brush his own teeth and keeps announcing he wants to learn Japanese so he can go to Japan instead of having a seventh birthday party) and working a full-time job that I adore but adds up to more than 40 hours a week and has me flying all over the place, I often find myself making choices like "Blog or sleep?" (note that it is now 1:58 a.m. and I am not sleep-typing) Adding "carefully curate my online persona" to my to-do list just ain't happening.
This is not to say that careful attention to one's personal brand is unimportant or frivolous or a waste of time. It's very important for a lot of people and for good reason. But for me, I think I'll just stick to being a person who, among many other things, blogs. I mean, I think I'll just be a blogger.
Oh, one last note. My job title? Brand and Strategy Manager. Maybe managing my personal brand is more life-work integration*** than I can muster.
*I don't have a business. (anymore)
**Don't have a new book, either. Or even an old one.
***I don't believe in work-life balance. Perhaps in my next post I'll explain what life-work integration means to me.