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Reborn identity

From David to Donald, 44’s Bec Kilcullen looks at the secrets to a successful reinvention…

What do Craig David, Donald Trump and the Very Hungry Caterpillar have in common?

Nope, it’s not the unfortunate habit of referring to themselves in the third person, although two are persistent reoffenders on that front.

It’s that they’ve all mastered the tricky art of reinvention.

Fall and rise

Admittedly, the voracious grub (the insect, not the presidential hopeful) didn’t have much choice in his rebirth as a beautiful butterfly but the classic tale means even pre-schoolers understand the idea of a second bite at life.

And the concept’s far from limited to adorable fictional creatures. Once the darling of British R&B, Craig David’s ascent faltered, then went into reverse when the real singer was eclipsed by a Bo’ Selecta! parody. Rapidly becoming a figure of national ridicule, he eventually ended up walking away (see what I did there?) from his singing career and then even from this continent.

After such a spectacular fall from grace – from seven million debut album sales to widespread derision and shifting just a few thousand records – surely he’d never be relevant again?

Actually in the past few months, David’s been found collaborating with respected artists back near the top of the charts and is once more a credible power in British music.

So it is possible to fall and rise again – see also Mark Wahlberg, Apple, Burberry and, possibly the greatest phoenix of them all, Robert Downey Jr. But what about a re-emergence in a different field entirely? Even that’s not uncommon. Angelina Jolie, for example, has famously used her global profile to aid her humanitarian goals, becoming Special Envoy to the UN refugee agency.

The art of reinvention

But the most scrutinised, and potentially momentous, reboot of the moment has to be that of Donald J. Trump. The US billionaire businessman turned TV personality and now likely Republican presidential nominee, is definitely Marmite. But love him or hate him, you have to admire his chutzpah.

From initial mockery, and plenty of shock and awe in the 11 months since announcing he’d run, Trump’s indomitable self-belief is the rocket fuel powering his reinvention (alongside his bulging coffers of course). He believed he could make it happen and, incredibly, he might just do it.

So what’s the secret to a successful reinvention? From David to Donald, to the eponymously ravenous mini-beast, the one thing they all have in common is the appetite to make it happen.

If you’ve got your own reinvention in mind – a new IC role perhaps, a new organisation or even a whole different career – then what’s the secret to making a success of it?

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