We all have a personal brand whether we realize it or not. Our personal brand is defined by the way we choose to live our lives, by the way we treat and communicate with others and even by the way we treat our own selves. The problem is that although we all have a personal brand, most of us don’t know what it is. Most people think that personal branding is about having a strong social media presence or a personal web site. Most people confuse the tools with the overall strategy.
Personal branding is the crossroads of reality and perception. To put it simply, personal branding is about who you want to become and how you want to be perceived by the world. Knowing who you are and who you aspire of becoming will help you design a roadmap to help you reach your destination.
When you look up at the stars, you dream about your future. You visualize who you’d like to become. You’re starting to define what you truly desire. But here comes the tricky part. Unless you look down and start doing the work, you’ll just remain a dreamer.
The roadmap to start designing a better version of yourself and moving from dreaming to acting is quite simple, but in its simplicity lies a lot of hard work, commitment, self-motivation and persistence. I’m not a fan of the law of attraction theory. Nothing will come your way just because you think about it. You have to get out there and create opportunities. Are you waiting or are you creating?
The following steps will help you start your journey, but you have to do the work. It’s your life. No one else is going to do this for you.
1. Work onYour Self-awareness
It all starts with You. If you don’t know who you are and where you want to go, how can you possibly have a vision and set your goals and aspirations?
Self-awareness is at the center of the equation. In order to build a strong personal brand, you need to know your strengths and your weaknesses. You need to distinguish between facts and limiting beliefs. Saying that you’re not strong enough, most of the times is a limiting belief you hold about yourself and not a fact. Be honest and realistic. Define the areas that you need to develop and define who you want to be.
Without being self-aware the whole branding structure you’re building will eventually collapse. No matter how good you are with communication, networking, social media etc, without self-awareness you won’t be able to identify your authentic voice. The best scenario is that you’ll end up imitating others. But this will be fake. And fake is so easily spotted and believe me, fake is appreciated by no one.
2. Be Focused
During World War II, the Allies mapped bullet holes in planes that were hit by Nazi fire. They did this so as to strengthen the planes by reinforcing the areas that received more hits. It seems like a logical approach, after all, these were the most affected areas.
But Abraham Wald, a mathematician, came to a different conclusion: these areas represented the damage inflicted to the planes that were actually able to come back home.
According to him, they should instead reinforce the areas where there were no bullet holes, because these were the places where the plane would not survive being hit.
This phenomenon is called survival deviation. It happens when you focus on successful outcomes and ignore the failures.
What are your truly weak areas and strengths that you should be paying attention to?
Where are you focusing on when developing your personal brand strategy?
And do you maintain your focus on your target or do you keep changing ideas and narratives in search of a quicker way of doing things or to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone?
3. Learn to fail
Don’t be afraid to fail. Those who are not failing are most likely not trying. Don’t be afraid to try new things and discover the strategies that actually work for you. We’re all afraid of failure. Why? Basically, we’re afraid of failure because of how others are going to perceive us after a failure. Well, if you think about it, that’s not such a strong reason to keep you from trying and failing.
But, be honest to yourself. If you keep on failing again and again, maybe you need to sit back and think that maybe you keep on repeating the same mistakes and you need to change something. Also, although failures give us a lot of experiences and help us grow stronger, it is wise to choose our failures as much as possible. Don’t accept to fail because you didn’t prepare hard enough. Fail because you tried something new, not because you took a chance without working hard to make it succeed. Measure your risks wisely.
4. Express Yourself
It comes without saying, once you discover your authentic voice and who you are and where you want to go, you need to start expressing yourself. Being the world’s best kept secret won’t lead you anywhere. Be open and share with the world your ideas in your own unique style. Don’t imitate, be yourself. Don’t worry if you feel different than others around you, on the contrary, be proud of who you are and express yourself. At first you will feel clumsy, but practice makes perfect. The more you communicate with the world, the more you’ll be identifying your authentic voice and perfecting your art.
5. Be Kind and Know Your Habits
Above all, no matter what you do, don’t forget to smile and be kind. Be kind to the people around you and be kind to yourself. Stop punishing yourself for all the things you haven’t done and for every single failure. Be kind to yourself and learn from your mistakes. Making mistakes means that you’re trying to build something. Reflect on what you can learn from your experiences and use that knowledge to your benefit.
Know your habits and behavior. Our habits play an important role in defining who we are. It’s the small things that we do, that create perceptions about who we are. Your actions and habits must be aligned to who you want to be.
6. What are You Offering?
You have something that others don’t. You need to define what your value is and present it to the world. And you need to work hard to keep on developing yourself and expanding your unique selling proposition. If you want the chance to have more opportunities, work on exciting projects, succeed in interviews or get a desired promotion, you need to show people what you’re capable for. You need to show people what you’ve got that others don’t.
If you want to make an impact in this world start by influencing and making an impact on yourself.
What differentiates the best from the rest is that the best of you actually do the work consistently. The ones that succeed are committed and persistent in their efforts. No matter how many times they fall, they always rise back up stronger.
You know that you need to develop and cultivate your personal brand. Whether you succeed in it or not lies in your own hands. You are completely accountable for your success.
So, start living your brand consciously and in everything that you do.