Someone recently sent me a link to this lovely YouTube video. In it, a blind pan handler is assisted by a clever passerby who changes the tone and words on his sign. She doesn’t change the meaning

of the message, just the words. Suddenly, the donations to the beggar go up dramatically.

What is in a word? What impact can a narrative have? A great deal! The way you characterize your circumstances, outlook and perspective can greatly impact how others regard you, the opportunities they assign you, and the choices you make.

Take, for instance, the difference between lamenting about, “I really need to find a job in 2013, or things will get really bad!” versus “I am optimistic that this year I will be more focused, intentional and strategic about my career prospects…” The message is the same (must find a job) but the words and tone completely reframe the perspective.

How about this one? “I seem to fail at everything I try these days...” versus, “I can look at what I’m doing right (attracting opportunities) and why some of them are obviously not right for me (why I’m not succeeding). Then, I will get better focused on attracting even better opportunities where I’m sure to succeed.

As I say often, personal branding is simple, but not easy. It would be easy to give up, let others define you and just follow the current out to sea. But successful professionals embrace the control and empowerment that comes with being focused, intentional and on-target with personal branding strategies to manage and direct their reputation.

Next time you hear yourself saying, “I really need more clients,” try reframing the narrative to something more powerful and intentional, such as: “I will make a list of my networking contacts, create a strategy to add value to their business, and ask for referrals. This will put ME in control of my business development.