Much has been said and written about sustainability in these pages and elsewhere. Most of this activity has been directed at what we need to do ensure the sustainability of our Planet (and that is really critical!), a lot is aimed at organisations, but very little is aimed at the individual.
This is somewhat strange since the primary reason why we are so interested in environmental sustainability is to ensure our own survival as a species.
In the organisational domain the notion of the Triple Bottom Line is well-established. It is being applied quite rigorously throughout the world to help organisations to create platforms that optimise their long term place in the market place, ensure that they contribute positively to the society of which they are part, and attempt to leave the environment richer for their existence. These are challenging objectives.
How then does this impact the individual and what should people be doing to work on their own sustainability and resilience?
These are searching questions and perhaps the use of a personal Triple Bottom Line may assist in this process.
The three elements are: Your personality; Your skills, experience, knowledge and wisdom; Your network.
We take all of these to work every day. They are all important and none more important than the others.
Too few people actually make a practice of thinking about what they should focus on and consequently almost no attention is paid to how one can maximise and integrate the three elements of one’s own Triple Bottom Line. Generally we allow these to interplay with each other at the sub-conscious level and almost no attention is paid to enhancing their collective impact.
Very few people actually really consider the impact of their personality or even attempt to consider how to seriously deploy their personalities to good effect and for long term impact; and very few have any idea how to mine their network or even where to begin. This is strange because these two on their own have the capacity to completely differentiate one’s offerings to the marketplace. This is what makes you, uniquely you! So why not use them consciously and to positive effect?!
Let us consider each of them independently……
• You have your parents to thank for your personality. Yes, there is some environmental impact but if you consider the fact that your personality is pretty much set by the age of 7 or 8 what happens through the rest of your walk through the Valley of Life merely cements how others experience you. So we do become more set in our ways because we have had reflected back at us who we are from our earliest years. Yes, our behaviour can and does change in reaction to our environment, the most extreme of these changes is found in pathological conditions such as Bipolar, schizophrenia and the like but these are not the norm although they are relatively quite prevalent in our society. You are who you are. But do you make the effort to consider how your personality can help and how the stronger elements of your personality can assist you to become increasingly resilient? It is essential that you do because the conscious deployment of your personality is undoubtedly the strongest tool you have in the Game of Life.
• The second element is all that we have learnt in our Life’s Journey. This includes our education, our experience and the wisdom that we have imbibed at the University of Life. No-one else has exactly the same range of experiences that you have. No-one else has the same mix experienced in the same sequence. In a way this is your unique experiential DNA. What is it? How do characterise it? What are its strongest and most enduring elements? What is the most marketable mix of your Experiential DNA? How do you deploy your Experiential DNA to maximum effect?
• Thirdly, and perhaps the most neglected, is your Personal Network. Do you know what it is? Do you know where it reaches to? Do you know how to mine your network to get the best out of it? Do you know how to deploy your network in a way the works positively for you in the long term? You need to answer these questions because it is true that you can reach anyone in the world through your Personal Network. Reaching them is only part of the challenge; learning how persuade them to help you is the other part.
Each of these elements, on its own, is useful and important.
But it is the Collective Impact that is most powerful. It is essential to understand each in its own right. It is critical to understand how they each feed on and influence the other two. But most critical is to understand how you can create and use this interplay between the three elements in ways that increase, consciously, your uniqueness and personal impact. One way to do this is to create your own Board of Mentors; 3 or 4 people you trust to give you frank feedback in meetings with all present. This feedback will help you to fully understand who you are and what your unique brand represents. This will enable you to use your Personal Brand consciously and with focus.
These lessons are particularly important for leaders since one of the most important things they have to do is to learn to act consistently. They cannot do this until they fully grasp the impact of their own Triple Bottom Line.