“You become who you choose to be. That’s the truth of personality. It’s not innate, but trained. It can and does change. It can and should be chosen and designed. Choosing one’s own way is a primary purpose to our lives” – Benjamin Hardy
I have coached and trained hundreds of people on personal branding and the number one question I get asked is:
“Is it too late for me to reinvent my brand and change perceptions?”
The good news is that it is never too late.
When it comes to your personal brand, you have the choice to either do a full reboot or make some small upgrades to your operating software.
Before you charge forward, you must first understand the current context. Consider these questions:
- When you walk into a room, how do people receive you?
- What do you think is the biggest misconception they have about you?
- How do you want people to perceive you?
- What words do you want to come into their mind when they think about you?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What is the promise you make and what can people expect of you when they engage with you?
Now that you have a clear idea of how you want to show up, you need to make sure your behaviour is in alignment.
Branding is not something you do; it is who you are.
You do not need a new website or more frequent posts on social media to change perceptions.
Great brands are created from the inside out.
Reinvention begins with your thinking –your internal dialogue, thoughts and beliefs. These shape your actions, your habits and character.
Here are the steps to begin the journey to reinventing your personal brand:
Change your code
“Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.” -KushandWizdom
The mind is a supercomputer and will do what you instruct it to do.
Psychologist, Marissa Peer says, “Your mind does not care if what you tell it is good, bad, true, false, healthy unhealthy, or right or wrong, it accepts and acts on your words regardless”.
Think about your words as the code for your internal programming. Confidence starts in the mind with the thoughts you tell yourself. What you communicate to yourself has a huge impact on how you project yourself to the rest of the world.
Choose your words carefully – how often do you describe yourself as stressed, a worrier, anxious, shy, useless, not enough?
Jack Canfield, best-selling author of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ suggests that the first step to owning your headspace is “to take control of the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take.”
How you use these three things determines everything you experience. If you don’t like what you are currently producing and experiencing, you must change your responses.
Change your negative thoughts to positive ones. Change what you daydream about. Change your habits. Change what you read. Change how you talk to yourself and others.
It doesn’t matter how professional your website is or where your SEO ranking lies – if you walk into a meeting feeling like you are not enough, it will filter through every aspect of yourself and people can pick this up instantly.
Let your future self be your North Star
“Victims use language to describe the life they lead. Owners use language to create the life they lead” – Steve Chandler
When it comes to reinventing your personal brand, there is an incongruity between being authentic to your current self and your future self.
Ask yourself these questions from Benjamin Hardy’s brilliant book, Personality isn’t Permanent:
- Who would you be if you could creatively design yourself?
- What would happen if you based your identity on who you want to be, rather than who you’ve been?
Let’s say you are working towards a particular role in your work, but it requires public speaking, and this terrifies you.
If you want to genuinely reinvent yourself, you need to make decisions that are authentic to your future self despite your fear and the discomfort you feel today.
Eventually over time, you will master the skills and become that person.
Shift from perfection to contribution
“Successful people become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others.” ― Marshall Goldsmith
How many opportunities have you missed because you told yourself that you aren’t ready for it? Or you missed a deadline because you agonised over every word in the document or presentation?
Perfection is a mirage, a story you have told yourself. You may have every great intention of wanting the work to be perfect, so you are perceived as a powerful brand.
However, this approach is not sustainable and will only make you miserable because your definition of perfection is probably what is holding you back from being the brand you want.
In your eyes, it is never attainable and if it is, at what cost to you?
In order to reinvent yourself, you ned to shift your focus from perfection to contribution.
When I must deliver a big talk or workshop and I can feel the fear of judgement creeping in, I remind myself I am there to deliver a message because I have the skills and knowledge.
I put my focus on delighting the audience and adding value to them. This can be an audience of two or two hundred.
It is no longer about me – it is about the message. All the fear of judgement dissipates, and I can simply focus on the value I can bring.
When the next opportunity to present in a meeting comes up, remind yourself you have been asked for a reason. You have unique insights, perspectives and knowledge that will add value.
Put the focus on the audience – how do you want them to feel, think and do as a result of what you have shared?
Then it doesn’t matter if you forgot a particular fact or how you spoke – it’s about the contribution you made and the problem you solved. That is a powerful brand.
Stop seeking external validation
“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”- Confucius
The difference between external validation and self-worth is that one is an infinite resource and the other finite.
Constantly seeking external validation to boost your confidence and sense of self-worth is not a sustainable strategy. At some point, the external validation well will run dry.
Self-confidence comes from daily doses of micro wins. It is incremental steps over time in the direction of your goal that produces momentum. When you can see progress, your self-worth automatically inflates.
The problem with external validation is exactly that, it’s external. It’s nice to be told you did a good job and we need recognition however this cannot be your permission device to feel good about yourself.
If you are only fuelled by other opinions of you, what happens after a week when the compliments wear off? Reinventing your brand begins when you can fill your own cup first.
You must walk into a room feeling enough despite the outcome and what people say. If you give your power away to the next criticism, snotty email or strange look – you will always be chasing other’s approval of you and stay in the zone of ‘not enough’ and dent your self-worth.
Imagine yourself as a battery pack, you know the ones you carry around for your phone? You need to start the day on full charge, you can’t have the mind-set that another person, another meeting, another sale (fill in the blank) will charge that battery for you.
Have you ever tried to charge your Apple phone on an Android charger? It’s just not going to happen. It’s the same with you.
Don’t try put your self-worth or acceptance of yourself in the hands of another person. You may just not be compatible, and they will never be able to charge your battery.
For those days when you are feeling half full, then make sure you surround yourself with people who love and support you. They are the only compatible chargers.
Fixed mindset vs growth mindset
“There’s no such thing as failure, only results”- Tony Robbins
In Carol Dweck’s ground-breaking book, Mindset, she describes how our beliefs can have a profound impact on every aspect of our lives.
A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are innate. You are born with certain skills and you cannot change.
A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as an opportunity for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
If you want to switch careers to a new industry, you must believe that you can acquire the necessary skills. If not, you place yourself in a box with limited options based on your perceived current personality and strengths.
Reinvention can only happen when you adopt a growth mindset.
Stop waiting to feel like it
“People do not decide their future, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures”. – F. Matthias Alexander
The greatest myth in acting on your goals is that you need to “feel like” doing the task in order to do it.
Feelings are not fact.
How many times have you ditched your exercise routine because ‘you weren’t in the mood ’or you never made progress on your writing or painting because ‘you just weren’t feeling creative’.
The only time you will feel like doing the task is when you are in the act of doing it or when you have done it. How amazing do you feel after the run or after you have cooked a beautiful meal?
You are what you repeatedly do; not what you repeatedly feel.
Instead of relying on your emotional gauge, rather ask yourself what needs to be done.
The former will take you down the rabbit hole of trying to justify why you are entitled to surf the web rather than do your presentation because you aren’t in the mood.
When you listen to your feelings, your own inaction will reinforce your story and keep you trapped in your current version of yourself.
When you act on what needs to be done, you lay the foundation for change.
Replace fear with commitment
When it comes to reinvention, fear is a natural feeling because you are moving into unknown territory. Fear often gets confused with discomfort and so you let that convince you it’s the wrong path.
In order to reinvent your brand, replace fear with commitment. What are you committed to? What do you value?
If you value health and longevity, commit to the actions that will get you there. Of course, it’s uncomfortable in the beginning but don’t let fear drive the bus. Commitment to an outcome is far more powerful.
Commitment can mean starting with 15 minutes per day to establish a new habit. Commit to showing up to yourself and keep the promises you make to yourself.
“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne Williamson
In order to reinvent yourself, you need to adopt a new role – Chief of Sales.
Even if you’re not selling a product or a service, you’re selling yourself. In every interaction with others, from the first moment you speak, write or act, you’re constantly selling your personal brand.
A great salesperson believes in their product or service and defends it passionately.
You cannot expect anyone to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. You cannot make someone else believe that you’re amazing until you believe, deeply, unequivocally, that you are.
Reinvention is a journey to the best version of yourself. And like most journeys, it begins in the mind.
Your mind shapes your reality and any changes you want to make in your life need to be activated first within your internal world.
Here’s to meeting your targets,
I’ve created an ultimate guide to Show Up To Yourself: In Life & Business to help you build new habits, manage your inner critic and truly own your days.