This weekend see's the induction of Guns & Roses in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland – minus Axl Rose. In fact his long running dispute with some of the original band members seems to be continuing to the point where he has asked not to be included in to the induction. With very lawyer type language and a very impersonal letter to "the hall, band fans and Whom it May concern" he said;
"I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf."
The Sex Pistols were the only previous refusals to induction and that strikes me as very on brand for them!
Certainly Rose has had more than a share of controversy, difficult life situations and outbursts, so perhaps this is just another on brand action.
But if you were faced with a similar situation in your profession alternative ways to handle this and not damage your personal brand as much might include:
1. A polite declined RSVP to the organizers. This is a highly appreciated and supported award and institution that is also recognising many of your peers not just the group you have a dispute with. Why make the event more about your absence and perceived gripes than their recognition?
2. Remember who got you there. Your own brand fans likely were integral to your being recognised, publicly refuting that support in any way is in the least crass. Create a personal message, perhaps a video in Axl's case would have worked, and post it on your web site clearly explaining your reasons in a more authentic way.
3. Take responsibility. Accept that past actions and reactions have not been looked upon favourably and this is an opportunity to step forward and change the future. Accept the invitation and use it as an opportunity to present a new YOU that everyone, especially yourself can look forward to live with going forward.