Building a Reputation
George Underwood finds it difficult to talk about his old friend David Robert Jones, alias David Bowie. In a radio interview, Underwood candidly shared stories of Bowie when they were children – Underwood was responsible for Bowie’s damaged but ultimately supercool eye injury that is a small, but iconic part of the legend and story of Bowie and his persona. What came across really authentically as Underwood recounted fond memories of a dear friend, was the enigmatic nature of Bowie’s enthusiastic and inquisitive mind, his wit, his magnetic character, his confidence and his energy, which were ever-present in an extraordinary life.
It will be no surprise to you to learn then that I have been a fan of Bowie for many years and his passing has left a deep impression on me: how can someone I had never met have such a hold on my emotions? I’m not alone it seems. In a strange way, I felt disappointed that so many other people were deeply affected too, mistaken in my selfish love that Bowie was all mine.
This effect is rare. Bowie represented a dream, a fantasy, a way of life that remained intact, right up and and even beyond his death. His reputation, for many people, remains intact. George Underwood, in one breath, felt traumatised and then relieved that he didn’t know that Bowie was close to the end. There was no slow close – we had no time to adjust. ‘Wham Bam Thank you Mam’, as Underwood remarked. This has become part of Bowie’s legend.
How do you build your reputation?
So let’s be honest. Like Bowie, can you hold people’s attention and have them hanging on your every word? Or do they suddenly find they have to be somewhere else, or interrupt you mid-stream? Personal impact is important – no, it’s crucial for success not only personally but also professionally. If you want to influence people, be an effective leader and achieve great results then you need bags of impact. Where does it come from and how do you get more of it?
When you are confident you are free to be yourself
My experience in helping people to develop their personal impact has led me to recognise that the foundation of personal impact is self-confidence. We believe confidence isn’t about outward show, it’s about inner strength and self-belief. If you believe in yourself you will feel more confident. Beliefs are created and reinforced by experience and thoughts. The way you think about yourself has a profound effect on the impact you have on others. You can develop confidence by talking to yourself in a positive way, making positive pictures in your mind and acting as if you are confident by taking risks. If this doesn’t work, you may need the help of a coach.
When you are real you have impact
Being real is an important component of making a positive impact. People who are comfortable being themselves don’t feel the need to conform to the expectations of others and are often perceived as having presence.
Think of Bowie.
You can’t be authentic without inner confidence. People who are confident act naturally as they don’t feel the need to put on a mask. When your words and actions match, and that congruence is combined with confidence and conviction, you will have a magnetic personality that attracts people to you. Those who say one thing and do another rarely have impact, nor those who seek constantly to please and satisfy others.
When you have impact you have influence
Personal impact can be defined as ‘having an effect upon someone or something’. When you make an impact – positive or negative – people will react in some way. The secret of success lies in being aware of the impact you’re making on others then adapting what you do to get the result you want. You will be more likely to ‘hit it off’ with people when you match your communication style to suit the other person. When you make a positive impact you have a head start when it comes to influencing and persuading others to buy your ideas. You are more likely to persuade your boss to give you a raise or convince a customer that you can provide what they want when the impression you make is of a confident, genuine person who is ‘speaking their language’.
You need influence to be a leader
When building a reputation, whether we lead a team or not we are all leaders – personally responsible for the direction we’re heading, motivating ourselves and attaining our goals. Once you’re clear about where you want to go and how you will get there you are well on your way towards achieving it. Effective leadership is about walking your talk and practising what you preach. The more able you are as a leader the more influential you will become. When leaders create and share a compelling vision they inspire and motivate people. Visionary leaders think big and act with boldness. They know where they’re going and the kind of impact they want to make.
We can’t all be David Bowie. But all is not lost. We, too, can find ways to create his energy, inner-confidence, and curiosity for life.