What’s in a name?

What does your name mean?

I’m not talking about “what does it mean” as if we cracked open a Baby Names book. I’m talking about…what does your name mean to you, and to others.

Your name. You’ve had it since birth. It has been a part of you for as long as you can remember. Yet, what does it mean?

When I was a Marketing Manager at Wrigley’s, we were looking to grow the team. When asked what he was specifically looking for in his next hire, my VP of Marketing said, “Another Janet Hulet”. And, everyone seemed to know what that meant. Although unconsciously, I had built my “name”.

We create our name through our physicality, our words, our actions, our energy. If you could view a movie of your life, even simply your life at work, what would you notice? What would others say that your name meant?

“Melanie Wing.” At Whirlpool, that name stands for a vibrant, energized leader who brings thought-full-ness (a thought leader…a futurist who brings forth innovative ideas) and thoughtfulness (caring) into her world. As a competitive intelligence pro, Melanie has been a go-to resource of knowledge, with integrity. She is a wealth of information for her company. Like a bank, her internal customers come to her and her team to make withdrawals of valuable resources…her currency is information. Melanie’s name means reliable, valuable resource. Yet, Melanie realized that her value was much more than that.

As Melanie explored a new perspective on her contribution, she noticed that she and her team are not only the bank…she is the banker. Melanie is a rock star at getting clear on the core issue, determining the data required and delivering astounding insights and connections! As she steps into this new level of contribution, her name is also becoming synonymous with “strategic business partner”.

So, what does this mean for you? It is really about consciously choosing how you want to “show up” as a leader…what you want your name to stand for. Try these three steps:

  1. Come up with a hypothesis of what you think your name means, in your world. How do others perceive you? Tune into what you hear in performance appraisals…what you notice as your impact on others in one-on-one and team situations…even how others would introduce you. You can even directly ask others for their honest opinion.
  2. Decide what you want your name to mean. The most important part is that it is authentic to you. Yet, this can have an aspirational aspect to it. Who is the “you” that you are becoming?
  3. Align what you project with how you want others to think of your good name. Take conscious steps to have that name consistently reflected in your physical image, your spoken and written word, your attitude. It is with every “touchpoint” with your personal leadership brand, that people get the “message”.

“Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of ~ for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”

~ Socrates, Greek philosopher in Athens (469 BC – 399 BC)

Socrates knew his stuff. So, what do you want your name to mean?

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.