Cancer is not your brand

At the time of this writing, several of my good friends and clients are going through cancer treatment. The stress and trauma of the medical procedures are overwhelming at times. What I also hear from them is, “I don’t want cancer to now define me.”

The choice to let something like cancer, divorce, job loss or abuse define someone is a very personal one. We all know people who talk about their illness, situation or issue and use the event to create a reputation for themselves. Some use their illness or event to be able to help others, while some seem to define their legacy by what happened.

Wherever we are in our journey toward building a powerful personal brand and managing our reputation, here are some things to consider:

  • We brand what we can control. You can control your behavior, with whom you form relationships, and what you value. You cannot control other people, timing (not always) and external factors. Focus on your brand, your reputation, your vision and on those you have the power to affect and direct.
  • Your identity is where your personal brand lives. Identity is not the same as a role. We all play multiple roles throughout our lives: We go from being employees to being the boss; we go from being a Mrs. to being an “ex”; we go from being a patient to being a survivor. Those roles only define us if we give them the power to do so.
  • Who you are is more than what you do. Take control of your reputation, your identity and how you want to be perceived. Use every opportunity — from in person networking, to social media, to your image and communications — to reinforce the value you bring and the values you hold.

Embracing the wholeness of your identity and legacy gives you control and power over change, conflict and trauma. Those events can define you or not. If you rise through and above the event to illustrate how your values, beliefs and actions define you, then you hold the power, not the cancer.