Richard Branson proclaimed 2014 the Year of the Entrepreneur and wasted no time calling 2015 the year to really believe in yourself (see Virgin’s twitter account). With 2015 being my grad year and some big decisions approaching, I spent some time reflecting on my passions, experiences, and frustrations from the last five years. However, when my startup’s creative and branding girl presented a workshop on cultural variability, it gave me a new perspective on branding and goal-setting.
Cultural variability involves the study of what makes people different, as well as their different perspectives. Some of the attributes discussed in the workshop that really stood out were the differences between individualism and collectivism, as well as independent and interdependent self.
Typically, individualism is characterized by putting individual interest over collective, prioritizing self & immediate family, using media to obtain information, and a goal of self-actualization. On the other hand, collectivism places collective interest over personal, encourages loyalty to extended family and friends, using social networks to obtain information, and a goal of harmony and consensus.
Alongside these aspects of cultural variability, are independent versus interdependent self. The independent millennial is free from social context, stable, unique and self-expressive. Conversely, the interdependent millennial is tied to social context, variable, is concerned with fitting in, and again maintaining harmony.
Is there a right or wrong answer? Should we all be interdependent or collectivistic? This is how we make a better world right? Equality for all? Or should we only be out for personal gain as independent individuals? Either extreme presents issues. If you are tied to conformity and promoting harmony amongst friend circles, what makes you stand out? Would we ever have big breakthroughs without independent individuals? At the same time, if you’re fully independent and individualistic, do you lack connection to social context? Will your ideas ever be heard if no one listens to them?
Next week, I will face a tremendous challenge going up against over 80 other brilliant young minds to try and become one of Canada’s Next 36 Business Leaders (http://thenext36.ca). It’s not so much a goal as it is a calling. Can I harness all that I am and all that I have experienced to prove to others that I’m cut out for this? Looking at the cultural variability spectrum, I’ve strengthened my social network without becoming all things to all people. By analyzing yourself, you shape your brand and niche moving forward.
When planning your New Year’s Resolutions, think about how you and your passions, experiences, and frustrations fall on this spectrum of cultural variability. The more you can tie your goals to the kind of person you want to become, the more discipline and focus you will have in reaching those goals. If you can achieve that sweet spot of standing for something bold while being connected to social context, you’re going to make serious strides in 2015.
2015 is the year to really believe in yourself. Go get ‘em!