The tattoo you almost didn’t get, your signature style, your inimitable story telling and countless other things act in concert to help others form an impression of you. And just as branding can make or break a product’s success, it can make or break yours.
Think of branding as creating a reputation; it’s what people buy into before they open the box or look under the hood. And in the case of your own personal branding, it’s not just what others value; it’s what you value. It’s a picture of what wakes you up in the morning and motivates you to go for it — provided the brand fits you.
The heart of my work is being true to yourself … and that means aligning your choices with what’s inside, your essence of love, your values, sense of purpose and vision to make a difference.
We constantly choose how to direct our energy; and in the process, we create an image that talks, looks and acts in an identifiable way to brand us. Oddly enough, the brand doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s inside; we can be oblivious to what’s there or intentionally hide it. We can also have an image so entrenched in our minds that we think we project that) image … when in reality, others see something quite different.
What to do?
~ Compare the image you hold of yourself with who you actually are
~ Mentally tweak the image — or overhaul it — to reflect your authentic self
~ Create an accurate visual of that image on the outside
If you’re an artistic person, don’t hide behind a corporate suit. If you like soft silk, don’t opt for crisp linen. If you feel happy and optimistic, don’t bypass yellow for shades of gray. Let what’s inside surface in your clothes, your food, your activity and your aspirations.
It’s easy to get stuck contemplating, and sporting, what’s acceptable. If you find yourself struggling to be yourself and also be acceptable, maybe you’re playing a role that doesn’t fit — maybe you’re not cut out to be a police officer or a financial planner. Don’t spend 40 hours a week stamping the wrong brand in your flesh.
You decide what’s acceptable for you. Yes, perception matters. But you can be you better than you can be anybody else.
The problem is we lose sight of who we are. I hear it a lot, “I’m not sure what being me looks like.” Find a quiet place and ask yourself, “What would you choose if you couldn’t fail?” Spending quality time with you to answer that question will give you a glimpse of the image that best reflects you, the one you really want to create on the outside.
Spend time in solitude, meditate, write in a journal, read a good book (“Please Understand Me” or “The Wisdom of the Ennegram” or my own “Innately Good”) to get to know yourself. And, no, it’s not too late to unveil who you are.
Look at the following list of things you already wear as a brand and ask yourself if you want to change them: Body language, teeth, nails, hair, clothes, job, recreational activities, hobbies, volunteer work, house, car, friends.
Those things don’t define you; but when they accurately reflect your values, your priorities and what feels good to you, you’re at peace. That’s what being true to yourself looks like.
“There is only one success — to be able to spend your life in your own way,” said Christopher Morley. Don’t wear a brand that you think somebody else needs or expects of you.