Today is the day to think about your own personal brand.
And get right back out there.
Even if you feel like you've lost sight of what makes you, you.
Do you remember the things you used to love to do as a kid? For me, that would be playing with my Barbies, helping my mother bake and cook, and running. I loved to run...as fast and as far as I could, whenever I got the chance. I didn't much care for sports overall, and was always the last kid picked for any sporting team in PE class, and the worst at nearly every 'sport' we subsequently then had to play...except running. I could run like the wind and never felt more alive and exhilarated as when I could fly away into the breeze and feel the world blur around me.
This is not to say that I was in any way an elite runner. In fact, I didn't do much with this love of running much beyond my childhood until I was in my early thirties, and began running for exercise. Then once I did rediscover how much I loved running, for many years, I ran five or six days a week, in all kinds of weather and regardless of feeling up to it or not. I rarely skipped this run; I had a route that I liked to follow (even though I know they say you shouldn't run the same path everyday, I did); I looked forward to it; and I found much needed companionship in the effort it took to run, and the solitude I found outside, just me and my iPod, letting the very real impact of a stressful job melt away behind me in big, metaphorical blobs of endorphins.
A few years ago I fell out of running. At the time I remember thinking it wasn't that big a deal, I could always start running again, right? But now, five years on and no regular running routine to be found, I have to own and admit that I let go of running. I let go of the joy and the pain, the exhilaration and the tediousness...the place that running had in my world, and the really important role it played in my life...and to the personal brand of Martha: woman, writer, and runner.
Sure, I benefited from the health aspects of running. I was in great shape and my thighs were as thin and toned as they've ever been, but even more than that--running was a part of my story as me, Martha. Running was what I did. It was a habit and a routine; a point of difference between me and my friend Megan, for example, who did yoga six days a week and traveled to India multiple times to study at her ashram. Everyone who knew me knew I was a runner, and if pressed to describe me, was one of my many traits that I feel certain was nearly always mentioned. Yes, running was a part of my brand DNA...and a part of what made me...well, me.
And even though recently I haven't been running, I know I can get back out there. I know it's only a matter of lacing up my shoes, popping in my earbuds, and letting the motivational lyrics of Metallica or the Foo Fighters hasten my steps along, and get me pounding down the sidewalk. This elemental part of my own personal brand story, it hasn't gone away. In fact, do these elements ever actually go away? Even if we neglect them? I think no. And certainly, running is only one part of my overall story, but it's an important one. And it's an element that has been there, all along...as plain as the nose on my face, and a clearly defined aspect of what makes me, and the offering I bring to the world, unique. I liked running. I liked being identified as a runner. But what I really liked was recognizing that sometimes, the difference we are all looking for in our own 'brands' isn't so much about impressive technological advances or cutting-edge ingredients, but getting back to the basics of our who, and our why. Those elements that have been with us from the start and no matter how overlooked...are still there, powering along the narrative.
My narrative, it goes something like this. I'm Martha. I deeply love heavy metal music from the 1980's and strong coffee. I am a writer and a reader; and I have a resolute (although currently sedentary) affection for running that I hope I never lose. The rest is a work in progress.