Note: I'm on vacation, so I'm posting some of past writing that never made it to the web. We'll be back to our normal programming next week. Cheers.
"What’s my distinctive mark?"
I don’t read as much history as I used to. Too much business and self-help and other forms of inward-focusing nonsense.
Recently, in an attempt to fix that, I had the absolute pleasure of reading Forty Ways To Look at Winston Churchill.
Rather than a coherent biography, the book is 40 separate essays, each of which approaches Churchill in a different way.
In one, he’s a world-class leader, saving British civilization; in another, he’s an inept bumbler that gets by on personality alone.
It’s a wonderful lesson in the subjectivity of history, which, until you see it in action, can be a bit hard to swallow.
Churchill, no matter how you look at him, is a treasure-trove of enjoyable quotes. Something I underlined:
"One of the most necessary features of a public man’s equipment is some distinctive mark which everyone learns to look for and to recognize."
Churchill made incredible use of this principle, of course; if I asked you to picture him right now, doubtless he’s got a cigar in one hand and he’s wearing some kind of quaint hat. He’s quintessentially "British," even for those of us with only the foggiest notion of what English culture is really like.
This got me to thinking - what’s my own "distinctive mark?"
Of course, we can take this literally and examine how we dress, how we present ourselves. Steve Jobs had his black turtleneck with jeans; Hulk Hogan had his bandanna and long blonde hair; Gandhi had his glasses.
We could expand the concept a bit and include personality traits; Oliver Wilde comes to mind, with a particular brand of humor and wait that accentuated his already considerable fashion sense.
I find the question interesting, because in order to design a distinctive mark, we need to know what we want others to perceive in us...and to do that, we need to have an understanding of who we truly are, and what we really want.
So. Ask yourself:
What’s my distinctive mark?
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