What George Washington Carver taught me about personal branding this year

At the beginning of the year, I set out to intentionally welcome flow into my business and life.

Because to be honest, I was tired.

After a heavy few years of promoting myself and my company through program launches, media appearances and speaking engagements, I wanted to see what it all added up to.

I needed to take a break from the grind of planting seed after seed, so I could step back and survey the land. 

Just what was becoming of all the seeds I’d planted?

personal brand lessons from carver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on the year made me think about George Washington Carver’s experiments with peanuts and crop rotation.

During the 1940’s, the brilliant botanist, environmentalist and inventor helped poor farmers save their livelihoods by reinvigorating their soil in the American South.

From Wikipedia:

While a professor at Tuskegee Insitutute, Carver developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. He wanted poor farmers to grow alternative crops, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes, as a source of their own food and to improve their quality of life.

He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would also improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton, initiated research into crop products, and taught generations of black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.

When farmers struggled to get their land to grow new crops, Carver figured out that in order for soil to repeatedly produce, you need to rotate what you grow. 

Otherwise you deplete the soil and render your land less productive.

So instead of planting cotton season after season, Carver encouraged farmers to rotate the crops they planted in order to allow the soil to rest and replenish itself. 

In 2017, I took a note from Carver.

I started the year in stillness and flow. Instead of pushing forward, I tried to be more still and quiet. I stood back to see what was in store.

It felt counterintuitive at first.

I’m not one to rest on my own laurels; I’m really not prone to resting at all. But I quickly found that in slowing down I gave myself permission to notice new opportunities as they came my way. I could actually fully harvest things I’d planted months or even years ago!

I found that in resting, I could replenish my mind and my ambition.

I found ways to get my ‘crops’ to yield more with the same amount or less effort.

I saw that in resting my mental and spiritual soil, as Carver encouraged, it became more fertile.

Major new crops sprouted up. Where the route to achieve certain things had once been unclear, suddenly the pathway was evident.

With a more open schedule, I was available to accept several business opportunities that came up quickly. I had the time to think through a new book concept and complete 3/4 of the project. I was able to recognize key opportunities to build new relationships in publishing and media. I was able to refine my message for my target audience. I deepened key partnerships for my business. I noticed a new niche of clientele that repeatedly raises their hand to work with me.

And that’s not to mention the additional personal bandwidth I had available for my family.

I realized that by “running on all cylinders,” I wasn’t giving my best in any area. And in giving one part of my brand or business time to rest, I could come back to it later with increased vigor and excitement.

What about you?

So often we talk about planting, pushing, and promoting.

But we rarely talk about the different seasons involved in the journey.

If you’ve been steadily working to grow your business or career by consistently delivering a stellar work product, it may be time for you to stand back and see what all of your hard work has yielded.

Like me, you may step back and see that you’ve done so much that one area of your world is essentially running on autopilot, giving you the freedom to grow in other areas.

If you’ve been head-down working hard on your craft and you have the results to show for it, now may be the perfect time to start planting seeds of visibility – nailing down your message, reaching out to the media, and securing speaking engagements for next year.

If you’ve been hitting the marketing pavement hard these last few months, it may be time to go back into the lab to work on your next breakthrough idea. 

What has been gestating? Do you have a new book or web series or podcast inside of you?

If you’ve recently birthed and full promoted a new idea, it may be your season to be still and open up time in your schedule so you can have the bandwidth to harvest. 

You need time to be available for all of the amazing things you’ve planted.

As you plan for your next season, keep Carver’s ideas in mind.

 


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If you want one-on-one support to work on your brand, I am booking strategy days for February 2018. Strategy days are for action-takers who don’t have the patience for a group mastermind, and don’t want to wait 9 months for a great conference. The strategy day is a way to make major headway in a specific area of your business in a short amount of time. You can learn more and book a discovery session to see if you’re a fit here.

Also, I’m putting the finishing touches on two group programs for January – one is focused on moving out of your “comfort zone” to break through to a new level of success; the other is focused on the first steps in my process for making your personal brand more visible.

 

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