by Shirley-Anne Fortina, Principal, The Pod Consultancy
What do you want to be known for? What do others say about you? We all have the choice to define ourselves, or to be defined by others. If you don’t like what’s being said or thought about you, then it’s time you considered the importance of personal branding.
The term ‘personal branding’ is not a new phenomenon; if you Google it you’ll notice that people like me have been writing about it for over a decade. But the fundamental truths haven’t changed. It remains a very real fact that you are a walking, talking brand. The way you dress, the way you communicate and the way you present yourself all have an impact on the personal brand ‘you’. Why should you care? Because building an unmistakable and positive personal brand is intrinsically linked to realising personal success.
Personal branding is a promise of your value, so it’s important for you to be in the driving seat. Are you aware of the brand ‘you’ and are you driving your brand far enough to ensure it’s giving you the right kind of success? To be in a position to define yourself, you need to have a sense of who you are and what you stand for.
5 Actions to Get Started
- Become more self-aware. This will help build your confidence levels, increase the options that are open to you and help you manage any self-limiting beliefs;
- Develop your presence. Watch, listen and be aware of the impact that you have on others;||
- Be assertive. State what you want, what you need and the costs of not getting them;
- Manage your career and your personal brand. It’s 100% your responsibility;
- Evaluate what you are passionate about, your skills and your values, and then be determined enough to take action.
Think of your personal brand as your personal bus! How are you driving your bus? Are the distracting influences of day to day issues and stresses affecting how you cope? Are you really in control of “your bus”, “your brand”?
We all need to take ownership of our experiences to avoid being swept away by the challenges of our busy lives. For many of us, our lives and our happiness are determined by the subtle and not-so-subtle expectations of others around us. Too often, we hand over control and we let others drive our bus.
You would have experienced this at some stage in your life: parents wanting to live vicariously through you; friends or life partners attempting to persuade you to do something their way, and even the typical expectations of the companies that employ you. And sometimes it feels easier to go with the flow than resist, doesn’t it?
But think about this: if you take responsibility for your life, you move towards the point of self-determination and then you really are in control and driving your own bus!
With that responsibility comes accountability, and each decision you make carries with it a consequence of that decision. You cannot and should not blame anyone for the outcome of your own decisions. Essentially, what I mean here is that none of us can blame others for whom or what is on our bus, nor where our bus is headed or where it ends up. We take responsibility because we are at the wheel and because only we have the map (or GPS!). It is solely up to us to decide where, when, why, with whom and how we drive our bus.
We all need to use our own set of unique skills; our strengths, our talents, our passions, our intellect and not be influenced by others’ expectations. It is when we find this ‘sense of self’, when we can answer, not what we want but instead, who we are, where we want to go, who we want to be, what we value and what we believe in. It is when we take time out of our overly busy schedules to slow down, to stop and think about these questions that we start to take control of our lives.
So what should we do?
Well, we all know that speed kills, right? The speed at which we’re living our lives also kills creativity, fun, health and wellbeing. It increases stress levels and, most importantly, we miss out on the journey because we are travelling waaaay too fast!
So let’s slow down and – dare I even say it – stop! Stop the bus and take the time NOW to invest in yourself.
Start with some proactive self-reflection; it will be one of the most important activities that you do in your lifetime. Self-reflection is the foundation to your life. Once you find that ‘inner you’, you can shine anywhere, any place, any time, because the light that shines comes from within.
Norman Vincent Peale said ‘One of the greatest moments in anybody's developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is’.
His point being that, in a world that is constantly changing and providing us with challenges, honest self-reflection is key to our sanity, development and personal growth. We should regularly examine what has, and hasn’t, worked, despite how painful it may be to look in the mirror. Self-reflection helps us with direction, our communication and our life experiences.