You are writing a gospel,
A chapter each day.
By the deeds that you do,
By the words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true.
So tell me what is the gospel,
According to you?
– First lines of the song “The Gospel According to You” written by Richard Johnson
Though I’ve never listened to this song, I wrote the lyrics on a Post-it note and hung it from my computer monitor at work because I think it is a good reminder.
If you publicly associate yourself with a group, like a company or religion or even a state, you can impact the likelihood that another person uses your company’s services, visits your state, or adopts your faith. This fact is both a burden and a blessing.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say that Illinois residents are rude, or people from the south are exceptionally hospitable. This opinion is usually based on an experience with one or two people from the entire state or region. As a marketer, I would never trust a statistic based on a such a small sampling. So why do so many people (including me) let these one-time incidents form our opinions about a collective group? How many times have you done this and later found out you were wrong about the group?
Next time you catch yourself losing your temper with a clumsy cashier or flipping the bird to someone that cuts you off in traffic, ask yourself if these behaviors are representative of the kind of person that belongs to the groups with which you associate yourself. Are your actions and words teaching people that your group is made up of liars and hypocrites? Or warm, generous people?
Your words matter. Your actions matter even more. You have the power to create change in others by your example – for better or worse. Are you attracting people to your group or repelling them?