say you’re about to take a leap into the future – a project launch, a
new collaboration, a complete brand overhaul – or (brace yourself) a new
business that’s all your own.
A leap implies mustering enough
energy and bravery to propel yourself across a distance that you
wouldn’t ordinarily be able to just, you know, step across. Another
factor is of course the motivation to leap. There has to be something
visible on the other side to make you want to risk crossing the gap to
reach it (or something chasing you from behind with big teeth.)
typically, unless you have angered a bear, a dragon, or some volcano
temple’s warrior god you’re not leaping across some chasm to save your
skin. You’re leaping to get somewhere new and exciting. But that
doesn’t mean it’s not just as scary. In fact without any immediate
consequences for not jumping (i.e. getting eaten, consumed by flames or
sacrificed in some lava pit) there leaves too much room for hesitation,
self doubt and backpedaling.
And then the real beast rears it’s
ugly head, the one that can freeze you dead in your tracks and stop any
sort of momentum that you had going for you. She has many names but I
like to call her “analysis paralysis.”
I would like to argue that looking back over your shoulder, doesn’t
have to stop you in your tracks, in fact it can give you clarity and
courage. And when paired with that future vision waiting for you, it can
help channel that energy into actions that will help you “leap” on
through to the other side.
Analysis Without The Paralysis
There’s a branding exercise that Kathleen and I have created called Past Present Future.
And no, it doesn’t involve tying on headscarves and pulling out a
crystal ball. But it has amazingly has revealed some of the most
insightful brand “truths” to come out of our methodology.
it helps us get realistic about what we’re communicating with a brand.
Not getting so far into the future vision for a business that it’s too
far removed from any authenticity. And not getting so bogged down in the
safety and comfort of what’s been done in the past, that we’re not
getting anywhere new.
Finding Clarity and Courage
but none of that sounds too dire. An established small business taking a
“leap” with their brand is usually more like an evolution, moving up
into a new league with their look and feel with either a rename or logo
or website redo, a launch of a new product or service, or introducing
themselves to a new market. We find that the Past Present Future exercise
for them typically helps them find an overlap between pie-in-the sky
hopes for what’s next for their business and where they’ve already had
the most tangible success. It’s mostly a clarifying overlap.
it’s when individuals are really taking that first leap into their
small, sometimes even micro- businesses, that this exercise really lends
more than just clarity – but courage.
The Problem With The Present:
funny things about actions, you know like leaping, is that you have to,
well… act. That’s the challenge of the present. And the biggest
contributing factors to delay, especially when embarking on a new
endeavor like a first-time business or startup, are:
a.) I’ve got too many ideas, how do I focus on the right one?
b.) I don’t know if I can figure this out, what if I fail?
Solve those two problems and you’ve got your a.) clarity and b.) courage, or at least enough to spur you into action.
So Try This Past Present Future Brand Exercise:
A. In the PAST column write five most memorable accomplishments or victories.
B. In the FUTURE column write five goals or dreams that would define your future success.
Last, in the PRESENT column rewrite just one idea from the PAST and one
from the FUTURE that have the most natural overlap between them. Why
those two? How can you pull strength from your past and find a way to
execute on that single future action?
The overlap is where you
uncover the most natural thread that runs between where you’ve excelled
and where you are going. Like a rope between what you’ve already done
and what you want to do next. Dare I say rope to help you across the
gap? The past in this case doesn’t not freeze you with indecision, but
but steels your courage by reminding you of your core strength or
talent. The future is always going to need “shades” it’s so bright and
busy, but picking just one beam to focus on frees you to execute – to
Don’t know what to do with that extra freaky day of February? Try some more of our 10 Minute Brand Exercises.