There are more ways than ever before to express your personality: piercings, nail polish in every hue, a rainbow of hair colors, customized messages on attire, bracelets or belt buckles or jewels that proclaim loyalty to a cause -- why do people have the sudden craving to politicize themselves permanently? Perhaps it is because an unadorned piece of flesh is one of the few places that isn't already covered with messages screaming for attention.
Tattoos used to represent something that would be valued permanently -- a love of mom, country or a special someone. Will the art that is embedded today stand the test of time and have that same endurance? I suspect that there will be a robust business opportunity for tattoo removal services to reflect the ebb and flow of personal taste that changes over time. Is there really any fashion statement I made in college that I wish was still with me today? I think not!
However, I do like the optimism that tattoos represent -- the idea that something is enough of a treasure that you (usually!) want the world to know of your bond and are willing to endure pain to permanently commit to that proclamation.
One of my favorite icebreakers asks participants "if you could get a tattoo for free, would you do so, and what would it be?". A better question for leaders is to ask yourself "if your organization had a tattoo, what would it be?". What does your organization treasure enough that it would endure pain to put it out there for everyone to see forever? Work to metaphorically tattoo that on the hearts and minds of your stakeholders.
-- beth triplett