How to Be Recognizable
We covered the origin of the Red Thread in Episode 3 with the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, but there’s another story that comes from Goethe. According to him, all the rope the British Navy uses, from the largest to the smallest, is made with a red thread woven into it. That means that even the smallest piece of rope can be identified as the property of the crown.
What’s great about that story is that it represents a different approach to leaving your mark. A lot of advice revolves around stamping your work from the outside: using a strong graphic identity or naming something in a very particular way. While those things are important, they’ll be even more powerful if the core of something is recognizably yours, if it’s interwoven with the Red Thread.
As you think through how to make what you do even more recognizable, start by asking yourself why what you’re doing right now is already recognizable. Like the red thread in the rope, it’s what is inseparable from you that is most recognizable to others.
– Could it be? Is there another origin story for the Red Thread? It turns out that it is and for those of you whose ideas and goals are about leaving your mark on the world, this one is just for you. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com and this is Find the Red Thread.
This alternative origin story comes from the writings of Goethe who suggested that there was a particular custom of the British Navy. Now, caveat here, I have not been able to back this up by anything other than Goethe’s writings or people writing about Goethe’s writings. But the lesson is valuable still. So, Goethe wrote that all the rope used by the British Royal Fleet from the thickest to the thinnest is twined in such a way that a red thread runs through all of them. It’s impossible to remove the red thread without undoing the rope and that means that even the smallest piece of rope can be identified as property of the crown. Isn’t that wonderful?
I just love that and I love it because it represents a different approach to leaving our mark or being recognized for what we do. I think a lot of us want to be known for something. We want people to say, “Oh, that’s the work of somebody,” or, “that’s the work of this particular person.” And a lot of times the advice that we hear is to then stamp it from the outside. Say, “This is my graphic identity, I’ve named a thing in a very particular way and those things are important.”
But they’re going to be even more powerful if once that thing is metaphorically opened up and the core of it is also recognizably yours and that core of it, as we’ve talked about all along, is that Red Thread. It’s the thing that you do, it’s the combination of concepts that create change in your world, the things that compel you to act.
It’s the goals that you’re trying to achieve for yourself or others. It’s the types of problems that you’re drawn to solve over and over again. It’s the fundamental truths that guide why those things are so meaningful to you. When you put those things together they serve as an operating system, a guideline if you will, a lifeline for why you do what you do in the way you do it.
And the more that you know those things and the more that you operate from that operating system, from that Red Thread of yours, the more that everything you will do will be recognizable, not just from the outside but from the inside too.
So think about that as you’re thinking through, “How do I make what I do even more recognizable?” Start with, “Why is what I do right now already recognizable?” Because it’s what’s inseparable from you, just like that red thread is from the rope, that is what’s most recognizable to other people. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. Thanks so much for watching this episode of Find The Red Thread.