“Wait, who am I?”
Have you ever gotten to a certain point in your life and suddenly wondered, “wait, who am I actually?” “What actually makes me…me?”
For so many years, the way that you define yourself was based on your accomplishments, titles, external opinions. But is that really what your personal brand stands for?
Contrary to popular belief, defining your personal brand doesn’t mean you’re “adding” more facts, figures, and facets to who you are.
It’s quite the opposite, actually. To create a really strong personal brand you have to understand yourself at the core first, and in order to do that, you must first shed all the excess layers that no longer belong to you who truly are.
I find this process best explained through a metaphor of clothing and personal style:
Think about the clothes you wore back when you were a kid…did you choose every outfit? Or did your parents dress you a certain way? Perhaps your grandma gave you a knit sweater, maybe your friend gifted you a hat? Without really questioning it, you wore clothes that others gave to you.
Then when you are a little older, you look outwards and see what all the cool kids are doing in high school. So you begin copying trends to feel like you belong, and are socially acceptable…next thing you know, you’re in your late 20s and the majority of the stuff you own wasn’t what you really wanted in the first place!! The only reason it’s in your closet because it’s familiar, comfortable, and acceptable.
So what do you have to do to find a personal style that is an authentic representation of you? You have to take off all the layers. Clean your closet. Find what’s really lying underneath the knit sweater, the trends, etc.
What do you have to do to find a personal style that is an authentic representation of you? You have to take off all the layers.
Then, what you are left of you in your bare flesh. And wow, that place can be very uncomfortable for many reasons. But what if you could look at yourself naked, in the mirror, and really “see” yourself. What do you find?
Can you love her and celebrate who she is? Then from a place of love and acceptance, can you start intentionally choosing the layers you want to put back on? That’s when you get to cultivate a personal style that is a true representation of you.
The same process holds steady for personal branding. We are holding onto so many excess “layers” — titles, labels, stories that we are hiding underneath. What you need to do is literally take these off and find your core essence: understand it, love it, and recognize it before choosing how you want to brand yourself.
We are holding onto so many excess “layers” — titles, labels, stories that we are hiding underneath.
For me personally, I had to shed a lot of titles and stories. Things such as “I am too shy and introverted to be a leader” or “I’m too high-maintenance.” Going through the process, I had to recognize what titles or perceptions are simply not mine, and I’ve done a lot of work to understand my relationships to these titles and who I am at the core.
Then I get to construct a brand on my own terms, and intentionally choose what does/does not define me because now I am self-aware of what I was holding onto.
So, I’d like you to think about what you are holding onto that isn’t yours? What extra “baggage” are you wearing that is weighing you down?
Start shedding those layers and then from there choose what you want to put on as you craft your personal brand. You don’t need to put so much pressure on maintaining a certain image or persona when we start from a place that is truly you.
You don’t need to put so much pressure on maintaining a certain image or persona when we start from a place that is truly you.