Every living thing on our planet has a hard-wired survival strategy. Some are more complex than others. Where I live, we have carpenter bees. They are large, dark brown, and very aggressive. The female has a yellow spot on her back and a potent stinger. The male has no yellow mark and no stinger. The birds will eat the males but avoid the females. Birds dislike getting stung as much as people do. The survival strategy of the male carpenter bee is to rub yellow pollen on its back so it looks like a female. Most of the time, this works.
Humans have a hard-wired survival strategy as well and it is based in the Limbic System. The Fight or Flight response is well-known, but the one most likely to manifest itself in the world of business is the Freeze Response. Prey animals are programmed to pursue things that are running away. Early humans learned that if they freeze, they are not targeted for pursuit. They don’t get eaten. Their friends, who are running away, do.
Think back to meetings you have been in, especially hastily-organized mandatory meetings called by the department head. The quarterly results are below expectations. There have been rumors of staff reductions. The high-status leader enters the room. No one is moving. Everyone’s threat response is activated. No one wants to be noticed. Not now.
But in truth, this is precisely the time that you want to stand out. This is the moment when you want to override your hard-wired threat response and express your Personal Brand. It is a test of leadership. How can you apply your Personal Brand attributes in a time of crisis? How can you use those attributes to mobilize resources and get people focused?
Ask any successful leader about a turning point in their career. Most can tell you of a specific moment in time when they faced a challenge. Growth spurts happen during adversity.
Defining your Personal Brand takes work. You have to be clear on your core values, vision, purpose, passions and strengths. This becomes your foundation and the basis for decision-making and leadership style. Going through the Personal Branding process prepares you for the inevitable crisis and the defining moment in your career, when others freeze, and you don’t.
Did you see the moth on the trunk of the tree in the photo above? Moths have a survival strategy and it is this:
Don’t be seen.
Don’t stand out.
Don’t get eaten.
It is an excellent strategy for moths. For people, that strategy no longer works.