Posts Tagged ‘self image’

A Little Story About Personal Branding

Career, Events, Presentation, Social Networking | Posted by Doc List
Dec 13 2014

[Originally posted on Facebook]

A little story about personal branding.

I’m attending the Better Software Conference/Agile Development Conference in Orlando, Florida as a speaker. I did a tutorial on Monday on my philosophy of “It’s All About Me!™” and a short session on the subtlety of language on Wednesday.

After my session on Wednesday, I attended a session that a friend of mine delivered on personal branding. First, I’d never seen her present and wanted to. Second, I thought I might learn something new.

After her session, I wandered into the exhibit area (a.k.a. the break area). I picked up a lovely little snack and a cup of hot chocolate, and moved to a standup table and introduced myself to the fellow there. He introduced himself – he’s from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) – and said “Oh! We know all about you at the CBC!”.

I’ve never been to the CBC, never worked with anyone from the CBC, don’t know anyone at the CBC, as far as I know. It seems that their internal agile coach has attended one of my conference sessions somewhere, and when he returned he talked about it (okay, maybe he raved about it). If it’s the session I think it is, I give out some cards that are used for a role play simulation about facilitation.

Later, I ran into my friend Jennifer, who’d done the session on personal branding. She said “I saw you in the session and I thought ‘What is he doing here? He has done an amazing job of personal branding. Get out of here, Doc!'”

This stuff surprises me. I mean, I know I’ve worked at it, and established “Doc List” as a brand and a persona. It still surprises me.

When my team gave me the nickname in 2007, I freely admit that I set out to make it my brand.

Apparently it has worked.

It’s All About Me!™ in Orlando

Coping and Communicating, Musings, Social Networking | Posted by Doc List
Nov 13 2014

I just did my first half-day tutorial on my favorite topic, It’s All About Me!™. You’d think after talking and writing about it for years, I might have done something sooner.


In reflecting on it, I conclude that I’ve been afraid that I’d put it out there and someone would call bullshit on me.

Happily, that didn’t happen. The feedback was excellent. My favorite was “Great session! Included original material rather than just rehashing existing stuff.”

I’ll be doing more sessions, and maybe sometime soon I’ll finish the book I’ve been working on.

Channel Yourself

Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
May 12 2012

For a time, I was a coach. A personal / life / business coach. I loved the work. Well, it didn’t feel like work. It was joyful and amazing.

It was not uncommon for a client to tell me that they felt that they were not yet what / who they wanted to be. When this came up, we’d discuss the question of who or what they wanted to be. We’d create an image of that future self, including the way they’d talk, the way they’d walk, how they’d hold themselves, their posture, their gestures, the presence they’d create when they entered a room, and so on. A rich, full vision of the future self.


“Wow! That’s who I want to be. How do I get there?”

Sounds tricky, right? I mean, if it were easy, wouldn’t we all be powerful or leaders or loved or in the job we want or…

Here’s the technique I shared with my clients.

I get that you’re not yet that person. You have a clear picture of that version of you, who seems like a different person right now. You have a clear picture of how that person would speak, what they’d say, how they’d stand, how they’d move, and the gestures they’d use, right?

Channel that person. Don’t try to be that person. Act like that person.

What would that person say in this situation? Say that.

What would that person do in this situation? Do that.

It has been successfully demonstrated repeatedly that we can change our feelings by changing our words. We can change our behavior by choice, repeating the changes until they become our real selves.

So rather than wondering what I need to do to become the person I am visualizing, I choose to act like that person until I become that person.

Take it on like a persona, until it “takes”.

As it settles in, my feelings will change to reflect the confidence I begin to feel. The behavior will become natural and mine.

One day, I will wake up and discover that I have become the person I was visualizing.

Driven by Desire

Agile & Lean, Coping and Communicating, Facilitation, Musings | Posted by Doc
Oct 07 2010

one_angry_man_facing right-flippedChange. It’s what I spend my time thinking and talking about. Whether it’s coaching or training or organizational or individual, change.

And change is hard.

Thinking back to the Plow, there will be varying amounts and degrees of resistance whenever change is occurring. It doesn’t matter whether the change is initiated internally or externally.

The challenge when you’re an agent of change, therefore, is to reduce the amount and degree of resistance. Of course, if you know my IAAM philosophy, then you know that I believe that you can’t cause change or change resistance. Rather you can offer others the information and perspective that you bring to the table, perhaps couched in such a way as to be most influential or persuasive. But when you get right down to it, change must come from within: within the individual and within the organization.

There’s an implication here for those of us who are, in fact, agents of change. The implication is this: our job is not to change people or organizations.

Our job, then, is to help individuals and organizations desire change.

Whoa. That’s a challenge. How do you guide/help/lead one person, much less an organization, to want change, when change is threatening, frightening, intimidating?

Start by understanding the pain points that they live with today. I know this seems simple and obvious, and to a certain extent it is.

Sadly, too often we go in with the attitude “change is coming, so toughen up, and let’s go!”

That doesn’t work.

Think about yourself. When have you been successful in making a change in yourself? For me, I know it’s only when I want to, not when I think I should. Even when I need to, I still have to want to or the change will fail.

Just look at my waistline. 😉 I’m working on it. Ignoring traveling, I’m actually achieving change.  Change in my eating habits and exercise habits and attitude toward food.  Not because someone told me I should.  Not because someone else cares (although they might). It’s because *I* want to change.

So the next time you are sitting in the change agent’s seat, stop and ask the first question: “Why should they care?”

Do something about it, or…

Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
May 23 2010

We all know unhappy people, whiners, the frustrated and disappointed and disenfranchised, those who are dissatisfied and feel that they are stuck.

For this post, I’ll refer to that persona as Vern (since it could be a male or female name).

Vern complains. In fact, Vern seems to be happiest when complaining, which is ironic.

Vern seems to be helpless in frustration, seeing the world as beyond his/her ability to affect and change. The bad things seem to have overwhelming power. The situation always seems to be beyond Vern’s control. And Vern can always find something to complain and be unhappy about.

For a while now, I’ve been saying to people…

Sadly, Vern is too ready to say “I can’t”.

I disagree. I can always do something about it. If I can’t change “it”, then I can change me. I can leave, for instance. Or I can learn to accept things as they are. These are frequently the ends of the spectrum, with various forms of changing me and it in the range in the middle.

However, if Very chooses not to take any of the many choices available, then my follow-up is…

I mean, if you choose not to do anything to change your situation, Vern, then do me the courtesy of not battering me with your frustration, whining, griping, or other expressions that make it clear that you believe that something or someone else is in charge of your life and circumstances.

Take charge of your life, willya Vern?

Check out the line of shirts and mugs with these images and variations.

I’m sorry

Musings | Posted by Doc
Aug 02 2009

I’m all in favor of saying “I’m sorry.” Not necessarily as an admission of fault or wrongdoing, of course. But because sometimes it’s the right thing to say.

“I had a really rotten day.” “I’m sorry.”

And then there are times that it’s just not the appropriate thing to say.

Mary and Bill were riding down in the elevator, on their way out to the store. They were chatting as usual, talking about this and that.

The elevator reached the ground floor. When the door opened, there was another couple standing right in front of the door, effectively blocking the way.

As Bill and Mary started to exit the elevator, Mary turned sideways to edge out, and said “I’m sorry.”

Bill’s inclination had been to say “excuse me” until Mary spoke up, and then he was stumped into silence.

What did Mary have to be sorry about? There was no fault, and nothing to be sympathetic to. Rather, the people standing in front of the elevator should have said “I’m sorry” or at least “excuse me” and moved aside.

So why would Mary say “I’m sorry”?

My thought is that Mary has self-image issues. She behaves as though she somehow believes that other people are worth more than she is or more important than she is. I could be wrong, but I’ve seen this kind of behavior enough times to have a clue.

While I believe strongly in treating people with respect, I don’t believe in behaving with automatic subservience or submission.

You’ve gotta earn those, and you’d better have a BIG hammer!

IAAM: Sympathizing, Empathizing, Identifying

Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
Jul 02 2009

[This is fiction. Any resemblance to individuals living or otherwise is purely coincidental.  Really.]

Joan’s phone starting ringing insistently. Joan thought for a moment, since she was watching her favorite reality TV show, and that was her time to just disconnect. In spite of her preferences, Joan decided to answer the phone.

“Joan?” She heard her friend Nancy’s voice, and her heart skipped a beat. Nancy was sobbing. “Nancy? What’s wrong honey?”

“They fired me, Joan! They fired me!”

“Joanie…” sobbing “…they said that I just wasn’t living up to their expectations.”

“Oh, Nancy…”

Now let’s talk about Joan’s possible reactions…

Each of us has a different reaction, and each of us offers a different response based on that reaction*. For the moment, I want to talk about three types of reaction and response: sympathy, empathy, and identification.

Reaction: Sympathy

Response: “Oh, Nancy… that’s terrible. You must feel miserable.  I can only imagine how that feels. Would you like to come over and talk?”

Reaction: Empathy

Response: “Oh, Nancy… I feel terrible. I can’t believe it! I’ll come over and let’s talk about what we can do.” Joan cries.

Reaction: Identification

Response: “Oh, Nancy. Those bastards! After all you’ve done for them, and how hard you’ve worked. You gave your all to that company, and this is how they treat you? I’m devastated.”

Nancy cries.

Joan cries.

Up to this point, sympathy, empathy, and identification sound a lot alike. In all three versions, Joan has an emotional reaction that leads to a behavior – her response. In each case, her response is subtly different. Note that in the following discussion, I am not making a judgment about better versus worse, or good versus bad… I’m working on achieving understanding and recognizing that each type of reaction and response deserves and requires a different response from me.

In being sympathetic, Joan’s response is separate. Joan is clear that what is happening to Nancy is about Nancy, not about Joan. While Joan may feel sad or angry, it is on behalf of her friend. From Nancy’s perspective, there is a little bit of distance between them. Joan’s feelings are moderate.

In being empathetic, Joan’s response is collective. Joan feels what she believes Joan feels, including the pain, indignation, and so forth. For Joan, what is happening is also happening to her, emotionally. From Nancy’s perspective, it’s like a resonation, which may increase the level of her feelings. To a certain extent, Joan’s reaction becomes an extension of Nancy’s reaction. Joan’s feelings are intense, although she recognizes that they are about Nancy.

In identifying with Nancy, Joan takes on Nancy’s feelings and reactions. Joan’s response is intense and personal, as though she were the one who had been fired. Nancy may be taken aback by the intensity of Joan’s reaction, as Joan takes on some of Nancy’s emotional response. Joan behaves as if she were the one who had been fired, and will react to others as if she were the victim as much as Nancy.

To see how this works, let’s add Joan’s husband Mark to the story…

“Joan? What’s going on?”


“It’s Nancy. She got fired today. I feel so bad for her. She’s so upset.”

“That sucks. What’s she going to do?”

“I don’t know yet. I may have to spend some time with her.  I hope that’s okay with you.”


“It’s Nancy. She got fired today. I’ve got to go over there to be with her right now!” Sobbing

“That sucks. What’s she going to do?”

“I don’t know yet, but I just know how horrible she feels and that I have to go be with her. It’s so painful! Doesn’t this upset you?”


“It’s Nancy. She got fired today. I’ve got to go over there to be with her right now!” Sobbing

“That sucks. What’s she going to do?”

“They treated her like dirt! How can you be so calm?  Don’t you care? They were unfair and cruel. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re going to do something to show them!”

Note that Joan’s response to Mark escalates from Sympathy to Empathy to Identification. In the latter, Joan feels that what has happened to Nancy has happened to her, and thus she expects the same kind of reaction from Mark that she’d expect if she had been fired.

This post is long enough.  Now I’m going to go off and think about the differences in responses to each of the three.


  • an inclination to support or be loyal to or to agree with an opinion; “his sympathies were always with the underdog”; “I knew I could count on his …
  • sharing the feelings of others (especially feelings of sorrow or anguish)
  • a relation of affinity or harmony between people; whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other; “the two of them were in close sympathy”



  • the attribution to yourself (consciously or unconsciously) of the characteristics of another person (or group of persons)
  • a process by which one ascribes to oneself the qualities or characteristics of another person.
  • A person’s association with or assumption of the qualities, characteristics, or views of another person or group.

*Reaction vs. Response

For the purposes of this discussion, I’m defining “reaction” as the emotional or physical effect that occurs without thinking, and “response” as the chosen action or thought that occurs after the reaction. That is, if I put my hand in a fire, pulling my hand out is a reaction – I don’t think about it – while swearing about it is a response.

Who is You?

Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
Mar 24 2009

When I was in my teens, my brother David (two years older) was beginning college. He came home from school one day and said that he’d learned one lesson that he really liked: when I’m talking about myself, I should say “I” not “you”.

You know what I mean, don’t you?

Someone asks a question, and I say “Well, you know, when you do [whatever] you feel [some way] and then you [do something].” How come if I’m talking about me I keep saying “you”?

This ties back to IAAM, of course.

If I say “I”, then I’m taking ownership of the good and the bad. Whereas if I say “you” I’m sharing it with – well – everyone. And if everyone says this or does this or feels this way, then it must be okay, right?

You know – when you admit how you feel, and maybe you’re not altogether proud of feeling that way, then if you make it seem as if it’s a common way to feel then you feel better, right?

Oh, wait.  Look at what I just did.  Let’s see how it sounds if I say…

You know – when I admit how I feel, and maybe I’m not altogether proud of feeling that way, then if I make it seem as if it’s a common way to feel then I feel better, right?

Does it feel different to you, too? The first one distances the whole issue from me, and allows me to feel safer. The second one makes it very personal, and I feel vulnerable and exposed.


Have you noticed this about yourself or those around you? That when you/they are talking about yourself/themselves, you realize that you/they always say it as if it’s not really about them?

Yeah, that’s the safe way.

If it’s you, maybe you should think about taking ownership of your stuff, and saying “I” instead of “you”. Then, when you’re communicating with your team, your family, or your friends, they will be dealing with the real you, not the generalized-safe-it’s-not-just-me version of you.

And then send a nice thank you note to my brother David in Melbourne. 😉

Convergence (not the pattern)

Coping and Communicating, Facilitation, Musings | Posted by Doc
Feb 26 2009

What’s interesting to me is that I’ve seen my own posts slowly converging, as I mentioned in “A pattern  of antipatterns (part 2).”

Part of that convergence came from the higher order patterns IAAM- and IAAM+.

And part comes from my reasonably consistent system of behavior and understanding.

Being a lifelong science fiction fan, it reminds me of the convergence that occurred in Isaac Asimov’s Robots storiesand Foundation series. Two seemingly separate store lines, converging as they evolved.

For me, the whole thing is reaffirming – that these two threads of my thinking and writing are coming together. It’s not really a surprise to me, but I didn’t plan it this way.

I think I’ll start thinking about how the taking-personal-responsibility stuff relates to the facilitation-and-meeting-participation stuff, as I continue forward.

There’ll be more patterns and antipatterns, and also more ways of dealing with them, and more on how our individual behavior and responsibility comes into play.

And no, I’m not comparing myself to Isaac Asimov! 🙂

A pattern of antipatterns (part 2)

Coping and Communicating, Facilitation, Musings | Posted by Doc
Feb 25 2009

If you’ve been thinking about it, you’ve probably noticed the pattern of antipatterns and also the pattern of patterns.  In fact, I wrote about it indirectly in ‘The two faces of “It’s all about me!”‘.

Yup, IAAM- and IAAM+ are the two higher order patterns that I’m talking about.

Isn’t it interesting that these apply in our personal relationships and conversations, and in the world of meetings and facilitation?

Not surprising, though, because we’re always people, and always bring our blessings and our baggage with us, wherever we go and whatever we do.

Also not surprising, I expect, is that I believe that recognizing and taking action to change my beliefs and my behavior in one context will carry over into all others. Regardless of whether it’s how I relate to friends and family, how I participate in meetings, how I behave as a manager, or how I behave as an employee, they’re all tied together at one point: me!

Here’s my challenge to you: look at your own behavior, and ask yourself whether it is IAAM- or IAAM+. Are you focusing on the relationship or are you focusing on your own needs and desires? Are you behaving in a way that benefits others, as well as yourself, or just yourself?

This is difficult. I won’t pretend otherwise. Examining my own behavior, questioning my own motives, and exploring the impact on others is hard.

And worthwhile.

No pain, no gain.

%d bloggers like this: