On Saturday, I was walking in Antwerp, Belgium in a fashion-forward area of the city. (If you want to know how I got to Belgium, read this; if you want to see some cool pictures I took in Belgium, read this.) Anyway, I was walking around and I came to a store that’s apparently frequented by Belgian hipster millennials. (I just had the urge to scream ‘Get off my porch!’). It was basically the Belgian version of American Apparel, but a little bit cooler. Outside was the sign you see here in this post:
Stand by your vision and create your own revolution.
That seemed to be a cool thing to adopt as a personal mantra, so I switched out my old iPhone lock screen picture — a large teddy bear with a santa hat, naitch — for the sign. Then I started thinking about personal mantras.
I don’t think I’ve ever really had one. I honestly don’t think you even need one, if we’re being honest. People get through life pretty well off and just fine without ever printing a slogan of theirs on a t-shirt, so a little bit of this post is probably self-indulgent to the Nth degree. But I was still thinking about it a little bit.
When I got married, my parents took Friday night (rehearsal dinner). My dad gave a speech there and quoted something I used to say in high school: “Let’s put all these incidents in the rearview mirror.” I wouldn’t say that’s a personal mantra per se, but it does speak to the idea that shit happens, you analyze it, and then you need to move on. That works in sales/marketing too.
My friends in college used to make fun of me because I often said “Play to your strengths, and play away from your weaknesses.” Hell, I still like that one. I think it should be the focus of organizational design, honestly — when you build a team of people for anything, you want to get people for their strengths, and set them up in a way that minimizes their weaknesses. Think about baseball: do you want a team of all power-hitters or all speed-guys? No. You want a balance. Life is like that too — and as an individual, you should try to get yourself into spots where your legit strengths are being maximized and your legit weaknesses are away, in an area where you can work on them productively without impacting the bottom line.
I’ve had a few others post-college — obviously I’ve had Facebook phases where I’ve trolled people and told them to “Get what’s rightfully yours!” (I believe in that one too; you should attempt to get what’s yours in life) — and recently I started purposely fucking up the Vegas expression and saying “… bad money chasing good…” to refer to a mess of a situation. (This is the actual expression.)
Alright, so back to this thing above — stand by your vision and create your own revolution.
Look, I’m not about to create a revolution. I don’t even completely know what that would mean in this context.
But I think the overall idea is important here.
We live in a very much have vs. have-not and in-group vs. out-group world. You can have a great idea, and work hard on it, and put your blood and tears and all your other body functions into it, and still someone at work can say “Eh, doesn’t work for us.” I used to work for PBS and I helped my boss write this thing that he wanted to pitch to Huffington Post. We put in a lot of work on it, he lined up contacts, all the things. We send it over and within 40 seconds: “Not our purview.” That’s life. It’s not perfect. People can vet you and they don’t always like what you’re doing. It happens. Remember this?
I like this as a personal motto, though, because I need to remember to drown out the nay-sayers in my own head. I need to stand by my vision. I might not create my own revolution, but I need to remember that my ideas are worthwhile, how I present them is worthwhile, and I should believe in what I think — and not be afraid to put it out there. It’s a little bit about the Click Publish moment, a little bit about putting your own life in context, and a little bit in realizing that my next big idea — something I stand by — could be the next big idea.
And hey, if nothing else, at least I always have it when I check my phone (which I think Americans do about 47 times a day) to drive me forward.
What about y’all — do you have a personal mantra?