I’m laying here injured. The worst of it isn’t the aches and pains. The real crime is that I did it myself.

Zach, a friend of mine, did it times three. After a late night drink with the guys, he did the right thing: he got his friend, who was sober, to drive him home. Unfortunately, Zach held on to the roof of the car as he was getting in and his friend slammed his hand hard enough to break Zach’s hand. After three days of getting used to the big purple bat that was the cast covering his hand, Zach felt strong enough to go out for a run. He ran along the railroad tracks near his house in Whittier and, in one innocent, heart healthy move, hit a spike and broke his foot. Finally taking off some time to recover, Zach was bit by a spider that blew up his uncasted arm. And so, that night, Zach sat for seven hours in the emergency room trying to find out if the bite was deadly. Though he went unseen by a doctor, after seven hours he figured that he’d live.

Zach’s injuries and mine are the worst kind because they are a result of our choices. Of course it’s easy to see what we’ve done when we are limping and achy because of it. They call these things “accidents.”

Accident or purposeful?

What have you done lately with your personal brand? Where have you made some unfortunate mistakes and really crummy first impressions? When were you introduced to someone, perhaps at an event, and didn’t have a business card with you? And when, online, have you asked someone to buy you a donkey or help you raise your imaginary barn?

Personal brands beware: our tendency as humans is to lay the blame for the loss of a job, a failed project, or a “personality conflict” on another person. But that doesn’t make sense.  Your personal brand, your reputation, your output, your input, your trajectory – even the people you go for a drink with – are all your own choice.

It’s going to take me another week before I can stand up and move around easily, but the end of this minor back injury is certain. Zach is already back to his new workout regime now that his hand and foot have healed, and he lived through the spider bite.

What you and I say, do, miss, forget, and engender negative regard for, is almost always, wholly, in our own minds, hearts, words, and deeds.

Think about where you’re going to take Your Next Step!