Pick a noble fight

Dan Gregory   @DanGregoryCo

Throughout our lives our parents, teachers, friends, politicians and police have told us to not start a fight, to avoid conflict and to walk away. “It’s just not worth it, man!” But what if the fight in question actually is worth it? And not just to you, but also to your community, the customers and clients you care most about and the people in your tribe?

What I’m going to suggest may seem a little politically incorrect, and even somewhat risky, but I want you to pick a fight.

Now, before you randomly wander out in the street like Brad Pitt and Ed Norton in the movie Fight Club trying to stir up trouble, let me be clear, I want you to pick a specific fight… a noble fight.

This matters precisely because in order to make change in the world, to become a thought leader in your field and build your personal brand as a professional, you will need to bring something new to the table, and that requires a willingness to challenge the existing. In fact, the very nature of life is growth and decay. One dominant species (or idea) cedes its place to a usurper who very likely fought their way to the top of the food chain.

So, what are the characteristics of a noble fight?

Your fight needs to be on someone else’s behalf

If you’re fighting for yourself, for you own gain, against a competitor who’s defeat conveys benefit primarily to yourself, you’re not in a noble fight, you’re a bully.

In other words, you need to be someone else’s champion. 

You might be the plucky underdog in the finance category who takes on the big banks, or the online book retailer who democratises eBook publishing or even the environmentalist tree lopper who decides chipping the trees you cut down is wasteful (and worse, releases stored CO2) and so you turn it into furniture. Whatever your noble fight becomes, it should be to someone else’s benefit.

There needs to be existing dissatisfaction with your opponent

There’s no point starting a fight with an enemy (be it an organisation, a belief or even a behaviour) if no one but you has a problem with it. You’ll look like a lunatic.

No. What you want is a rising sense of “finally, someone’s doing something” amongst those you seek to champion.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for you, there is seemingly no end of misbehaviour, poor service and outright deception present in every industry or category, so you won’t lack for opportunities for a very public altercation.

One thing to consider however, is that the size of your enemy determines the scale of your impact - and the visibility of your thought leadership and personal brand.

Build alliances with those who support your cause

If you’re taking on a sizeable opponent, you’re going to need supporters and allies who can be in your corner.

Battles and wars are seldom won alone, and they can be a bloody and lonely process if you’re waging them alone. So, leverage off your alliances and have them recruit their communities to your cause.

You need to know what you’ll do when you win

You don’t want to be like British Prime Minister David Cameron, who upon calling the ill-fated Brexit vote, immediately abdicated his position leaving the mess for others to clean up.

You need to have a plan for how to transition your identity from challenger to champion. This can be a challenging time as once you become the leading voice in your field, other contenders will begin to circle, measuring your thinking and testing your mettle.

You need to win

This seems like a moot point, but it really isn’t. History is written by the victors and too many of us get so caught up in our rightness and righteousness that we forget that, even though winning isn’t everything, it’s actually pretty critical to everything.

Building your personal brand and thought leadership is really no different to any endeavour you might undertake. Before you begin, you must clearly understand what a win looks like and early on understand whether you are willing to pay the price to earn it.

Find out how Dan can help your team stand out as thought leaders in your industry through in-house workshops on Personal Branding. Contact info@TheImpossibleInstitute.com or visit www.TheImpossibleInstitute.com

Dan Gregory is an author, speaker, trainer and social commentator. He helps leaders, teams and other smart people to be “people smart” through developing Forever Skills including: 

#Purpose - Culture & Leadership

#Persuasion - Sales & Marketing

#Positioning - Thought Leadership & Personal Brand

#Performance - Performance & Experience Design