While listening to a video this week, I was challenged to create a mantra. I immediately imagined myself sitting cross-legged on the floor wearing a loose robe and turban, humming ohmmmm, ohmmmmm. 

Of course, that wasn’t what was intended. I knew this because I haven’t been able to cross my legs that way since entering puberty. I also found that my 10 year old bathrobe didn’t look the part and I have no idea how to tie a turban.

Back to reality

Not wanting to cripple myself permanently, I gradually got up from the floor and gave a bit more attention to the actual challenge rather than my fanciful mind wandering (frequently a losing battle).

First, I needed to figure out why I would need a mantra in the first place. I wasn’t convinced of the value of it. I don’t naturally embrace manipulative mind tricks even if they are self-inflicted. They often seem patronizing and even a little silly. However, I am attempting to learn as much as possible about running my business from successful people who have gone before me. It is in that context that the mantra challenge came up.

Putting aside my natural reluctance, I accepted the challenge. It really didn’t take long, nor was it difficult. The surprise for me was how quickly I began to use it. I think it may actually be helpful. Go figure!

Figuring it out

For me the main idea is to have a simple phrase that reminds me about how I want to conduct my business. Emphasis on simple. So, I broke it into bite sized pieces. I decided there should be three main elements. I knew if it was more elaborate, every time I tried to recite it I would probably get distracted part way through and head to the pantry for a bag of chips. Not needing the extra calories, I kept it at three.

Next I decided that each element needs to be incredibly short to make it easy to remember. I further constrained myself to just two words for each element, mostly to see if I could. And because those chips are calling me. Six words total.

Here’s a little insight into the way my brain works. When I embrace a challenge, I historically do my best to make it harder than necessary on myself. This is totally subconscious and no, I don’t have a desire to fail. What I do have is a desire to know that if I fail, it was for a good reason. So, if I failed at writing a good mantra, that might be embarrassing. If I failed to write a good mantra with only six words, then I could retain a smidgen of self-respect. How convoluted is that?

Keep it simple, stupid

Simplicity being the theme, and to pile on the difficulty level, I also wanted the three elements to be alliterative. If each element started with the same sound or word, then it is even more likely to stick in my lone brain cell allotted to this task.

Next I needed to figure out what to say. This was the easy part because I have done a lot of soul searching about who I am, what my brand should be and what I want to accomplish. Celia Siegel pushed me in this direction with her book Voiceover Achiever: Brand Your Career. Change Your Life. By the way, if you buy Celia’s book, be prepared for some serious self-examination. I found her process to be incredibly valuable, but it was a lot more intense than I anticipated.

One, two, three

Honesty is integral to who I am and was the first thing I wanted to communicate. I expect honesty from myself at all times and hope for it from others. This speaks of who I am, but also of how I treat my customers and how I want to deliver my reads. However, the word honesty doesn’t work within the parameters I set for myself. I was on the right track, but needed to look further.

Secondly, I wanted to remind myself that learning in all of its forms is a never ending necessity. Learning how to improve my business, learning ways to edit more efficiently, expanding my performance capabilities; it all counts and improvement requires it.

Thirdly, I also knew that if any stone in my path is likely to trip me up, it will be losing momentum, particularly in marketing. I need to kick myself in the posterior to make myself keep at it. All of the above. Except the chips.

I’m a little proud of myself for the end result because I met all of my criteria. As an added plus, I actually like it. Here is what I came up with:

Be real. Be ready. Be relentless.

Let me encourage you to make your own mantra. Or borrow mine if you want. Also, don’t let the word mantra distract you. It’s really just something you repeat to yourself as needed to keep you motivated and on track.

Let me know if you have one, and what it is!

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you for being real, ready, and relentless, Mr. Gardner! Thank you for the shout-out! What a wonderful blog! Excellent and comprehensive, fun and riveting, engaging and conversational, transparent and vulnerable, and certainly in-depth. It reminded me of the way blogs should be written: with a good balance of insight and education, along with that much-needed personal touch. It really –

    *long pause*

    Sorry, I got a little carried away and went to get a bag of chips.

      • Just read your last 2 posts, Jon. Love the Be real. Be ready. Be relentless. and apologize for asking the same questions while you are so busy. I particularly liked the last post and the image of you and the bird and the butterfly.

        • Thanks Trish! The “oh Shirt!” Post is the one that inspired the “TL;DR Voice-Over Blog” name. I asked my wife to read it and she didn’t make it through to the end!

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