Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time.
How do you show up? We all have a personal footprint—some call it a personal brand. We use our voice and actions through-out our life to create the life we live and in doing so we leave footprints of the person we are creating everywhere we go. Are the footprints of your life a representation of the life you dream for yourself? If not, reinvent yourself and recreate your story to be that life you want for yourself.
I like to think that the glass is both half empty and half full as is life.
We have all experienced ups and downs in our life. However you get to choose how to define them…it’s your story and nobody else can define your ups and downs. It is your own personal interpretation. Take the time to think about those things that you consider to be the downs of your life. These are typically the most important defining moments in your life….even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. There are lessons in every situation, and the bigger the down, the bigger and more impactful the lesson. Try to think about the positives that came from those situations—these are the gifts that we were given that perhaps we didn’t accept as such at that moment….it is never too late to accept these gifts and often these gifts present themselves later once we have had time to reflect.
My story, like many of us, is riddled with ups and downs. I come from a family that was very poor when I was young. My parents had junior high school educations, and my father was an abusive alcoholic that preferred to run around with other women rather than acknowledge the family he had at home. Needless to say, I realized later that my father gave me the gift being an example of what I did not want to be. I promised myself that that I would persevere through any challenges, I would get an education, always be loyal and keep my commitments to those that rely on me— I can and will persevere through anything as long as I don’t let the circumstances dictate my life.
Challenged early in life when I became a teen mom and married at 17, I conjured up that vivid gift my father gave me…I persevered through the challenges and finished high school despite having a baby. Life was hard, but I went on to college and got a job that put mentors in my life that helped me see my potential. I grew professionally….life wasn’t perfect, but I was making a difference and providing for my family.
After nearly twenty years of marriage, my husband committed suicide and my job of 10 years went bankrupt and I was laid off. I found myself a single mom, widowed and jobless with a mortgage to pay and two kids that were struggling with having their life turned upside down. I relied on that gift of perseverance once again. This time, I realized I had been given another gift… I was given the gift of grit. My past experiences enabled me to have the ability to cope. At a time when life seemed to be falling apart around me, I had the strength to take on these challenges. And after a while….I was able to realize that my husband was now at peace from the torment that went on inside of him, and he gave me the gift of giving me back my life to recreate.
Anyone can reinvent themselves....it's your story to write—we all have had hardships, but it is never too late to recreate your life. Life's challenges are what make us who we are. Accept the gifts from those difficult times and keep practicing living the life you want….practice makes perfect and leave mindful footprints of the story you are creating.
If you have never ran before, the first time you try to run a mile it is hard. If you keep running, before you know it you can run two miles and it doesn’t seem so hard. Life is like a bunch of one mile runs. Each challenge may be different, though you do get better at handling what life throws at you if you are mindful of the gifts they leave behind. As life goes on, I continue to be challenged….I even found myself confined to a bed for four months with two broken legs….and I got a wonderful gift from that experience….the gift of perspective. Your endurance will increase and you can get to climb higher after each challenge. Overtime you can go further easier…. if you keep yourself mindfully open to these gifts and avoid pity parties.
Today, my children have given me five beautiful grandchildren, I have a wonderful career, three amazing afghan hounds, a man in my life who is my best friend, many good friends and I have gotten to see the world –all seven continents. I would say I have a very blessed life. AND I now get to help create pathways for others to live extraordinary lives….the greatest gift of paying it forward.
Start thinking of yourself as someone who is building your Life to be what you want it to be….what footprints are you leaving?
Recreate your story. If you need help defining your story, I highly recommend reading Reinventing You by Dorie Clark.
• According to an AVG study, 92 percent of children under the age of two already have a digital footprint.
• The question is whether you choose to define your life or to let it be defined on your behalf.
Be authentic with yourself…a strong personal footprint can yield you an ROI of having a life of abundance. Let’s start with asking yourself some basic questions:
• What do you wish people to associate with you when they think of you?
• What do you want to be perceived an expert in or are there general qualities you want linked to you?
• Can you think of individuals who have created a personal footprint that is globally recognized that you can relate to? Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Irwin, Mother Theresa.
Be purposeful in what you share and know your life’s purpose. For example my life’s purpose (which took many many iterations before I could say it is truly my purpose) is “creating pathways for extraordinary lives”.
• Be strategic about your personal footprint—think about your values.
• Cultivating a strong personal footprint is just as much about being responsive to what is and is not being said about you as it is about creating intellectual property.
• Do you have a personal website or blog? It helps to have word searches affiliated to your personal footprint. (create a blog like this one to connect yourself with others)
• Find ways to add value to your audience by creating content that’s in line with your brand.
• Leverage relationships that can elevate your strategic plan. (Hang around with people that influence you—it really does boost your ability to see farther faster.)
• Have a perrsonal symbolic montra—what symbol do people relate to you? For example, mine is a tree....Anyone who knows me knows my love of trees--especially an evergreen tree and it's meaning which to me is powerful.
1. persists and remains green throughout the year (perseverance)
2. perennially fresh or interesting; enduring; well liked (people person)
3. automatically renewed or repeatedly made valid (continuous learner)
Audit your on line presence
• Google yourself and setup alerts for your name. Do you see what represents the You you are creating? What do you do to ensure that it is?
• Update your social network accounts
• Keep photos current
• Highlight Your Recent Work: Self promote with recent pieces of work
• Be a thought leader: Share interesting content that relates to your interest or values
BE FEARLESS -- go and leave footprints of the YOU you want to create---its your life and you GET TO create it…..