Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to be Timeless, Part 2

“What scares you?”

That was the question I asked my group.

The first answer came from Cameron. And I remember feeling my gut drop to the ground as soon as the following two words came out of his mouth:

“Becoming irrelevant.”

Good lord. What a terrifying concept for any entrepreneur to entertain.

Especially in the minds of your clients, in the eyes of the media and in the opinion of the marketplace – I can’t think of anything that poses a greater threat to the profitability, equity and longevity of your enterprise.

So.

What’s the answer?
What’s the antidote to fading away?

TWO WORDS: Being timeless.

Like a Picasso.
Like a black dress.
Like a Beavis & Butthead tattoo on your left ass cheek.

That’s timeless.

And even though it’s typically a subject comment, there are still a few universal principles that apply to everyone.

Here’s the second part (read part one!) of how to increase the timelessness of you, your brand and your organization:
1. Speak with a transcending tongue. Take Shakespeare, for example. His work is ambiguous enough to fit any context – yet still specific and personal enough to remain universally relatable.

Example: “Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.”

I don’t care what time period in history you come from – that’s powerful. And it will always be powerful. Because Shakespeare transcends time.

Your challenge is to isolate what it is about you, your brand and your organization that is transcendent; and what, specifically, it transcends. Age? Geography? Gender?

Either way: Allow the theme behind what you do to speak louder than the era in which you do it. What lines are you beautifully blurring?

2. Speak straight to the heart of human experience. Every day I post a question on my Facebook page. Recently, I ask, “What makes someone – or something – timeless? As usual, my friend Dixie chimed in beautifully:

“Timelessness comes from the deep connection to human experience – the themes, rhythms and currents of what it means to be human – and a willingness to be fully and unreservedly part of that experience.”

That should get you started. How human are you willing to position yourself as?

3. Draw attention to the universal. I once attended a seminar on male/female communication hosted by author and pastor Mark Gungor. Not only was it hilarious. Not only was it fun. And not only was it educational for my single-minded male brain. But Mark managed to share a message with over a thousand people that was impossible not to relate to.

No heroic adventures of climbing Mt. Everest. No amazing tales of overcoming adversity. Just a guy talking about something universal, i.e., relationships between men (morons) and women (superior alien counterparts).

That’s how you become timeless: You make your audience your accomplice. And you give them permission to plug themselves into your equations. Which important people are you accidentally alienating with the content, structure and delivery of this message?

4. Make a melody, not a groove. Consider a few famous songs: “Yesterday” by the Beatles, “Satisfaction,” by the Rolling Stones, “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen and “Over the Rainbow,” by Judy Garland.

What do they all have in common? According to The Independent, they’re among the most covered songs of all time. Why? Because they contain melodies that ring in our hearts forever – not just groves that ring in our heads for five minutes.

That’s the difference: Melodies stand the test of time – groves end up as catchy jingles for deodorant commercials. What’s more, the word “melody” comes from the Greek meloidia, which means, “a song on a limb.”

That suggests risk. That denotes uniqueness. That means art. “Groove,” on the other hand, comes from the Old English graef, which means, “a long, narrow rut.”

Just another word for a grave. Yikes. Does the music of your life contain timeless melodies or just a bunch of catchy grooves?

5. Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness. Not perfection. Not flawlessness. Not mistake-free work. Just consistency. Interestingly, the word comes from the Latin consistere, or, “state of being in agreement and harmony.”

That’s how you stand the test of time. That’s how you endure.

When your on-stage performance is congruent with your backstage reality.

When the message you’re preaching is the dominant reality of your life.

When you’re courageous enough to smoke what you’re selling.

Do that, and you won’t be forgotten. What kind of structure can you place around yourself to make sure you remember to do that consistently?

REMEMBER: There’s nothing more frightening than the prospect of irrelevancy.

Whether you’re an individual, a brand, or an organization – it’s always worth investing the time in making yourself a little more timeless.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you doing to keep from fading away?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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