As a society, we sometimes tend to put people in boxes and narrow an individual’s character to a single label — especially if he or she is different from us.
While accepting the labels people apply to us seems only natural at times; doing so can be limiting. However, when you defy labels, you can set the tone for your own life, say experts. Here are a few things to consider:
Labels Start Early
As early as kindergarten, labels are used at school to define children. Teachers label students according to skills, abilities and behavior. Children label other students according to social status.
At such a young age, children often internalize these general ideas about themselves; and overcoming the idea that one is a “slow learner” or a “dork” can be an uphill battle. Without a bit of will, a label can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Descriptions vs. Labels
Describing people, places and things is a big part of how we communicate. But there’s a difference between providing valuable or specific information about someone, and simply labeling them. Evaluate your words and see if you can stick to facts and insights. You can help others define themselves but not participating in labeling.
Most everyone has been labeled at some point. However, labels are not only applied to people, but also to the cars we drive and the homes we live in. For example, ever since the first MINI car was built in 1959, it has been called many things.
“People have put labels on the MINI brand for years. We`ve been called the ‘small car’ or the ‘cute car,’” says Tom Noble, department head, MINI Brand communications.
Noble says that while the brand has acknowledged those labels, they’ve also sought to innovate and have defied them in certain ways — and this has led to product innovation.
In that spirit of self-definition, MINI has launched the Defy Labels contest. Anyone can nominate himself or others who have defied labels in a bold and powerful way. After the nomination period, there will be a series of votes to determine finalists and a winner. The winner gets a two-year lease on the new MINI Clubman.
“The contest isn’t about rebellion, but rather about creating your own path regardless of the labels you’ve been given; a concept the MINI brand understands and embodies,” says Noble.
To learn more about the contest, visit mini-defylabels.com or follow the conversation at #DefyLabels.
Whether you’re with friends or foes, family or strangers, you’ll likely have to deal with being labeled by others. And the longer you’ve known someone, the harder it can be to shed the one-word conceptions they have about you.
In the face of having others define you, being true to oneself isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Consider the labels assigned to you. If you don’t agree with them, defy them. It may take others time to notice the change, but it can be worth the effort.
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