Choose Your Brand.
Have you felt the inexorable forces pulling at you lately?
While the potential and promise of new technology is pulling us into the gleaming future the most base and brutal forces are trying to drag us back into the dark ages.
Startling new advances in biomedical sciences provide hope to people who suffer from devastating diseases and paralyzing disabilities while terrorists bent on world domination use primitively brutal violence to achieve their ugly ends.
Artists, entertainers, writers, and more are using the latest democratized media to share their brilliance and make our worlds brighter while politicians (you know who you are) are using the same public access to spread their message of hatred to coerce us to cower.
Scientists are sharing their predictions and subsequent recommendations based on scientific inquiry and empirical fact while prognosticators and pundits with personal agendas are using fear and superstition to motivate inactivity and cowardice.
Which brand will you choose?
At the same time that we're battling these external forces vying for our attention and response there's another danger. In his 11/10/90 speech Personal Renewal, President Lyndon Johnson's Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John W. Gardner, reminded us that neither can we, “…write off the danger of complacency, growing rigidity, imprisonment by our own comfortable habits and opinions.”
In his book Self-Renewal, The Individual & The Innovative Society, Gardner further warned us that, “we build our own prisons and serve as our own jail-keepers.”
But Gardener also offered us a solution: “Life is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves. By potentialities I mean not just intellectual gifts but the full range of one's capacities for learning, sensing, wondering, understanding, loving and aspiring.”
Which brand will you choose?
Darkness or light?
Fear or freedom?
Personal stagnation or an endless unfolding of opportunities?
In my eleventh grade English class at Miami Beach Senior High School our teacher, Gary Glick, would gleefully recite the Latin term, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Simply put, it means that the growth of an organism (ontogeny) demonstrates all of the transitional forms of its ancestors throughout time (phylogeny).
In other words, just as human beings grow from infants to adolescents to young adults and on thru middle-age, old-age, and eventual death, so do human enterprises.
According to Gardner, “Young countries, businesses, and humans have several key commonalities: they are flexible, eager, open, curious, unafraid and willing to take risks.” However, over time these organisms experience “complacency, apathy, and rigidity… (and) it is at this junction that great civilizations fall, businesses go bankrupt, and life stagnates.”
Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, indeed.
So which brand will you choose?
Curiosity or complacency?
Eagerness or apathy?
Flexibility or rigidity?
Ultimately the decision – for yourself and your consumers alike – is between these two warring factions. Success in life and business requires your own brand (or your company's brand) to choose the light over the darkness, motion over stagnation – always moving forward towards the next adventure, the next innovation, the next opportunity.
Or, as Gardner says, “The only stability possible is stability in motion.”