You leave an imprint throughout your life on other people, and vice versa, sometimes faint and slight, at other times clear and strong. You are subtly altered or touched in some way each time you cross paths with someone through the uncharted waters of your life. An imprint is authentic and lasting and is not the same as an impression, which can be false and short-lived.
In the context of your jobs and careers, think of the myriad number of people you meet and get to know, however fleetingly. Some are instantly forgotten, others remain memories (good and bad) and a few remain constants, acquaintances and lifelong friends.
Now imagine you are standing on a hilltop on a beautiful, warm and cloudless day surrounded by a stunning landscape. Someone else is standing on a similar hilltop not far away. You can see them clearly and they can see you.
What they see is what you look like, how you present yourself and any movements you make, and vice versa. It’s the stuff on the surface. What they cannot see is what you are good at, not so good at, what you prefer doing, what motivates you, your goals, ambitions, fears and dreams. And you cannot see these things in them.
How did you get to be that person on the hilltop? How did they? When you look down into the valley between you, why is that perspective unique to you?
Here are some examples of the kind of factors that shape us all:
- Parents (or lack of one or both) and how you were brought up
- Socio-economic situation
- Close family members or significant others (e.g. teachers, friends)
- Physical environment
- Critical incidents (e.g. successes, recognition, failures, traumas)
- Work experiences
- Personal and cultural values
- Goals and ambitions.
Whether you go for a job interview, start a job, take on temporary work, intern or volunteer, all that anyone can initially see is what you look like, how you present yourself and your body language. It’s the stuff on the surface. What others cannot see are what makes you tick and what you have to offer.
You have an opportunity to shape impressions from the outset AND leave a lasting imprint on people you meet which reflects some of that complex, talented and unique you. It means knowing yourself and managing yourself well.
Think about who have been the key people in your life, the imprint have they left on you and vice versa, and how that has shaped the way you tend to feel, think, act or behave. Periodically, self-assess what has subtly changed about you, how you have developed, strengthened and matured.
How do you want to be remembered? We all have stories to tell that are unique to us. What are your stories? What imprint do you want to leave that makes you stand out from the crowd? It might just be your secret career advantage in a networked world.