I have always said to my kids, ‘behave yourself because you never know who’s watching’. Like all kids, without fail, they to their mum (she says tongue in cheek!) 

But the point I am making is you never know who is watching you. Not from a creepy, stalking way, but more an observational perspective.

And today, our personal branding extends way past a name on a building, a copyright mark that we might put against our initials, or the bio we choose to add to any profile we put on the web.

Things you say, things you write, things you share, all add up because these are the ways we all show up in today’s interconnected world.

And we all need to ‘show up’ .

Seth Godin tells us we need to ‘ship our art’, no matter what we fear. To put a project out into the world, no matter what the project. To share our ideas, no matter our opinion.

And a project can be anything. Art can be anything. It can be a blog, it can be a post, it can be a video or a meme, it can be a heartfelt message, it can be an idea, an opinion, a photo or a piece of trivia that needs to be shared. It can be a joke, it can be a compliment. It can be a series of questions, a brilliant proposal, a boardroom presentation that knocks the socks of the audience, ad infinitum.

It can be ANYTHING because ‘Art is something that stimulates an individual’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or ideas through the senses’.

So, if we are to own the artist in us, we need to realise that not everyone will engage or interact. Many will watch, and some will walk away shaking their head wondering who on earth you think you are. But, here’s the magic! You may just, inadvertently, change the world for one person. 

So, was I sending the right message to my kids?

Was telling them to ‘behave based on other people’s opinions’ the right message?

Would my message have been more impactful and life changing if I’d said, ‘do the thing that matters to you because you don’t know who needs to see you do it?’

We all have the capacity to ship our art but so many people don’t. They are so fearful of those voyeurs and what they might think.

Would they be perceived as ‘misbehaving’ by the pure fact that they are doing what the majority won’t do, because the majority, themselves, are afraid?

Afraid to ship their art because they believe they will be judged. And why do they believe they will be judged? Because they believe others are just like them – judgemental, fearful and imperfect [wack!!]

So, back to shipping our art.

I do what I do because I know I make a difference. Not to everyone – that would be a crazy idea, but to one or two people who need to see, hear, read and notice my art. And I put emotion into my writing, in addition to facts and logic. It’s what makes me, me!

So, the reason for this post. Last weekend my husband and I were having a coffee and my email pinged. It was a message from a stranger – a woman who lived in Perth. This was her message:

Hi Bernadette, I stumbled upon your AFR ([Australian Financial Review] op-ed on bankruptcy today. I’m a small business owner in Perth and facing bankruptcy right now.  The anxiety and feeling of shame at this has been mildly crippling… despite knowing that it is logically the right decision.  Reading your article gave me such a feeling of peace that I just wanted to reach out and say Thank You for publicly speaking about it.

Now, for those of you not familiar, my husband and I have shared on many different platforms our journey from health to illness and back again, from comfortable business owners to being bankrupt, and the journey we’ve taken the past few years to get ourselves back in the game. And this op-ed had been triggered by a presentation I gave at VIVID Sydney in 2017 titled ‘The Power of The Reframe’.

My reply back to her was….

My husband was sitting with me when I read your note out. We teared up. Our goal was to help one person and I think adrenaline shot the email back to you before I could frame what I wanted to say properly. If you need, or want, an ear or a shoulder, or help in any way… I mean it. Give me a call.  Have a great day and it does get better. Who knows someone might need to meet you one day in the future so you can share your story – with pride!

Now my presentation at VIVID was not perfect, nor was the interview – but I shipped them both anyway. Did I behave myself according to the rules of perfection? Not when I look back at the presentation and check out what I wore, or the fact that I choked up midway through and had to quickly get myself back on track – but it did lead to an op-ed and then to a life changing email.

Here’s the thing. Your brain is going to TRY to stop you from shipping nearly everything. Make friends with that part of you. Make friends with being ‘good enough’. Tell the scared, judgemental, nervous, perfectionist part of you that it will be OK, and you’ll come back to him or her later.

You don’t need to behave.

You don’t need to worry about other people.

You are doing your thing because it will make the biggest difference in one person’s world – customer, friend, buyer…

You will never, ever know who is watching you so allow that right person to see you, hear you, notice you!

Ship It!!

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant




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