Who controls your brand?
Joe Frazier was the first prizefighter to defeat “The Greatest.”
But he did more than beat Muhammad Ali.
He was instrumental in the creation of Ali’s brand.
Through their epic trilogy of bouts in the 1970s.
And likewise, Ali helped create the brand “Smokin’ Joe.”
Neither man was “in control” of his brand.
The boxing relationships were mutual, not causal.
Everyone was in it together, for themselves.
The fighters, the fans, the reporters, the promoters, the networks.
In the same way, organizations are not in control of their brands.
And neither are consumers.
No one is in control.
The idea of being in control implies that the future is predictable.
But future events are not passive to past events.
The future unfolds like an improvisational performance.
You can play a part, but you don’t write the plot.
Great leaders understand this critical distinction.
They embrace change.
They accept the uncertainty of the future.
They trust people and help them live their dreams.
And by giving up the idea of control, they end up with the kind of relationships they really want.
Trusting and mutually beneficial ones.
Charles F. Keating wrote, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”
Who controls the brand? isn’t a problem well stated.
In fact, it isn’t a problem at all.
For inquisitive types, it’s a rhetorical question.
One that helps them ponder the nature of success in today’s chaotic marketplace.
For everyone else, it’s a distraction.
Business and work are not situations to be controlled and problems to be solved.
They’re integral parts of our evolving stories.
Success is not knowing how everything happens and then attempting to control it.
Success is being inspired by something.
And then flat out doing it.