What 'mark' would you choose to articulate your personal/professional brand?

People-watching is an insatiable craving in my life.  People are beautiful, compelling and fascinating.  With willing eyes and an open mind, we have so much to learn about how people choose to make their mark.

While walking the beaches of Maui, Melinda and I were fascinated by an overwhelming wave of people who made the decision to decorate themselves with a tattoo.  I guess that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise…people on the beaches of Maui walk around mostly uncovered – if you have a tattoo, Kaanapali Beach is a fitting showcase.

Once I started looking closely, I started to wonder…what does a tattoo really mean?  And how does one choose the artwork?  Seriously!  Choosing the art for a tattoo is personal/professional branding statement that lasts forever.  From my Midwestern, white suburban male perspective — that’s a decision that would not be taken lightly.

Over the course of one three mile beach walk, I saw the full spectrum of tattoo art: from the “Corona Extra” logo to the predictable skull and crossbones.  From a Rebel flag to a dragon.  Countless flowers and crosses and barbed wire.  I met one guy with the triad of the New York Yankees, Buddha, and the United States flag tattooed across his shoulders and chest.  I found full-bodied mosaics to be fascinating, and messages about I love

[name] to be intriguing.  One guy had the entire skyline of Louisville Kentucky across his back – his female companion had a Bob Marley collage extending across her back under her left armpit across to her belly.  It got me wondering…does she like Bob Marley more than Louisville?

All of those marks say something about the person who carries them.  On a Snorkeling cruise, I asked some people the “What does your tattoo mean?” question.  I got two answers: either “I thought is was fun!” or the image had a deep, powerful meaning that motivated them to make it their ‘mark.’  My brother-in-law Earl has the later: on his left shoulder is a beautiful Native American-inspired circle to honor his fallen son Tate, who died in childbirth.  The mark was designed by his wife – Tate’s mother, who is also my sister.

Earl’s tattoo helps me see the tattoo phenomenon with fresh eyes and a curious soul.  We’re all trying to do good work on this earth, and we’re all intending to leave a mark on some small piece of the human race.

What would your mark be?  Maybe its about faith, or fun, or both!  Where would you like that brand to appear on your person?  What would it say about you, and why?

Melinda is considering a flower on her ankle…I’m considering some “fun sun art” on my shoulder.  We’ve threatened to make this our 50th birthday ritual.  What would that say about us?  About me or her?  I’m not sure…but I’m finding the process of mulling over a ‘mark’ of my own to be as inspiring as the beaches of Maui.

Have you pondered your ‘mark’ lately?  Good leaders understand the message they are trying to say in word, deed and pictures.

Please respond with what tattoo you would consider or already have….what and why?