Monday, April 22, 2013

Labels Labels Everywhere

I had the opportunity to listen to a guy speak this past weekend. He was speaking on the topic of labels. He pointed out the insanity of some points found on labels he had read on various household products. Things like Draino, which had a warning on the label stating (I am paraphrasing), "Do not use this container to store consumable beverages." He also commented on the use of labels to help us make purchasing decisions - name brand versus generic, etc.

Obviously, labels serve an important purpose, some less obvious than others. A big trend in the last several years has been branding yourself. The thought was, "Like a product, you have value that you offer. Create and leverage your brand like so many successful products in the marketplace."  Another way to put it is labeling yourself. With the advent of social media and a very competitive job market, I get that basic premise, however, I believe individuals need to be very careful about how they pursue their own "labels."

There is something to be said for focus and honing in on your strengths and experiences, however, typecasting, especially within a career, can lead down a narrow and thorny path. You need to look no further  than many of the "brand yourself" gurus that have popped up via social media, seemingly in the millions, in the past several years. To exhibit my point take a few moments, look them up online, and see if they are still at the same "social agency" or the same employer 2 - 4 years later. If not, what is their new title/label? Many have changed their label to achieve employment, and many no longer wear the social title/label they once had, often breaking their own advice from just a short time ago.

Labels can provide a lot of preconceived notions. When labeling yourself, perhaps you can thoughtfully consider more than the next five months, maybe consider your label for longevity. People change. People evolve. Certainly we, as human beings, will grow, learn and evolve in a more valuable way, than say, dish soap, sneakers or floor polish. Let's treat ourselves less like commodities and more like the valuable people that we are.

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