Article

Jay Denhart-Lillard
Jay Denhart-Lillard 1 October 2015

Everyone Sees The Shoots, Not The Roots

It can get lonely, working on your personal brand. But, like in caring for a sapling, time and effort brings rewards.

You may have thought long and hard, hesitated at times, and finally decided to plunge into the business of perfecting your public image. Well, that’s great! A powerful, unique personal brand has the potential to command respect and generate genuine interest in you within your peer networks and beyond.



But it doesn’t come easy, and like many good things in life, building a healthy personal image is a consequence of noble intentions, a strong will, and lot of effort. Which means that you’ll probably run into moments where it’s tough to keep going. But at these moments, it’s good to remember that, like a sapling that has been planted takes its time to germinate, your personal brand requires proper nurturing for it to mature, grow vigorously and yield fruit.


Working on developing yourself demands timely care, nourishment and attention. So a part of it will include spending some time thinking, planning, practicing, and taking stock on your progress. And this time and work is significant effort that other people are not going to be able to see or appreciate. It’s like the roots of a plant reaching deep into the earth and providing stability to the highly visible shoots and leaves above.

shoots not roots flourish


By stretching this analogy a bit further, you may realize that the roots from which the plant draws its vitality could have taken years to spread, and an abundance of nourishment was required through the right mix of soil, water and sunlight. Similarly, in order to nurture your image, you will need to invest in perseverance, a commitment to the end goal, a willingness to explore new things, and a positive attitude.


The process of building a long-lasting, vigorous, and vibrant personal brand is like a journey, and it is one that takes time to navigate. As doubts assail you and work makes increasing demands on your time and energy, you may find that the going gets tough. Things may not go as per your plan and your own struggles with procrastination may add to your frustration. You may be tempted to revisit the very purpose of the work you’ve begun, and feel like you’re unable to map your progress against any meaningful milestones. But rest assured that you are on the right track.


The fact is that it takes time and effort to achieve something valuable. After all, ‘nothing worth having is entirely free.’You wouldn’t expect to have a high-paying job without putting in the work to develop critical skills’ – and the same is true for your personal brand. Studies about delayed gratification have shown that the ‘grit’ to stick to your guns when you’re down can make all the difference in achieving your goals, surpassing even the advantages of superior talent.


As Calvin Coolidge said:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is filled with educated derelicts. Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent.  — Calvin Coolidge


But it’s easier said than done to build up to and sustain this tempo. You have to live your brand every day – delivering to a set of expectations that you have set forth for yourself and those whom you serve. So don’t be discouraged!


But if you do lose your way and get frustrated, here are a few tips to keep your focus and get back on track:


1. Think About The Long Game: It’s easy to lose sight of why you started, and so make sure to take a little time to reflect on the outcome you’re hoping for. It can often help to pause and lift your head above the ruckus – to glimpse the finish line and start anew.


2. Keep Your Interest Up: When you consider what your ultimate goals are, remember how intimately tied to them you are. They should include topics and causes that excite you, and sustain your interest over time. This tactic should help to keep you genuinely interested in connecting with the people and issues that can drive you forward.


3. Get A Coach:
I’m not saying you have to hire an expensive personal job coach (although you may want to anyway), but you could probably use someone to talk to who has a different perspective on your situation. They can be a friend, colleague, or mentor. Just be sure they’re someone who can keep you grounded and assured that you’re on the right path.


4. Make Molehills Out Of Mountains:
Break down big project steps into smaller steps that are easier to accomplish – this will help you stay focused. The satisfaction of winning each small battle nudges you forward, while failures can give you the scope to study, learn and recalibrate your response without much risk attached.


5. Stick To A Schedule:
Associate the activities related to branding with some sort of pleasure, indulging in things that you love doing. While you sit down to strategize, write, or blog, listen to your favorite music or dig into your favorite dish. This way, you may be encouraged to set aside time for yourself daily.


6. Be Your Own Biggest Fan:
No one is fully aware of your work, skills, experiences and contributions better than you yourself. Find your motivation within you, by feeding yourself supportive messages, like a cheery post-it on your bathroom mirror. Reflect upon your successes that you’ve had so far. If doubts still persist, draw sustenance from the fact that you are doing your best as a means to self-improvement. Which means that every effort undertaken contributes in some small way to your success.


It’s said that nature blesses man when he seeks it with reverence and care. So it shouldn’t surprise you that great results may not be imminent immediately, but the toil you put in should yields its fruits inevitably. And consistency can magnify the rewards you can anticipate.


So keep going! Focus on the roots, and let others enjoy the shoots.

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