Learning how to establish your ESSENCE
I have always known I was different. I have always known I was unique. I have always known I was not like anyone else. I have always known these things because of parents who drilled into us the importance of independent thought, of being your own person and of owning both your hits and misses. What I did not know was that a foundation was being laid and that the act of me being me had created a personal brand. Long before there was a term to describe it and long before the term itself began trending, we have been branding ourselves. When we do a deep-dive into "personal branding" we are really learning how to first establish our essence and then invite everyone else on the journey to get to know the distinctive amalgamation of abilities and gamut of life experiences that make you you. Crafting a powerful personal brand will set you apart. More than just a popular catchphrase, an understanding of your personal brand is an invitation to yourself to look for what is situated beneath the surface, reveal your strongest qualities and translate this information into the congruent and consistent message, “this is me!” In the long run you will not turn out to be everyone’s cup of tea but you know you made them look your way. You stood out. The goal is to amplify your essence, to no longer be the best kept secret, to radiate YOU.
Having multitudinous interests, passions, likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams is what makes us human and what ironically makes crafting a humanized personal brand so intimidating. How do we, in just a few words, express who we are? Like I said earlier, I had parents who reinforced the notion of being unique and not fitting into a particular mold, which has nurtured my personality. The thing is, not until a few years ago, was I able to articulate what the actual elements of my personality were. So I decided to pick it apart, to see what I came up with. I have never been risk-averse when it comes to matters of career or big life changes and thoroughly believe in failing fast. I feel like no situation will ever be perfect or time right enough and while waiting for these ideal conditions, the situation will have already changed. I usually jump head first and adjust on the way down. I like the word ‘no’ I live for the challenge. It pushes me to find another way to do it or to go create the thing that was out of reach. Chalk it up to that Scorpio stubbornness. Finally, I love to laugh and have been known to have a sarcastic sense of humor, that I know is not ill-natured, but can at times come off as such. A direct result of growing up in a house where “Fatigue” (Trini slang - to ridicule someone, to tease or heckle them. To cleverly poke fun) was de rigueur. Armed with this information and with the feeling that these were indeed my most dominant personality traits, I asked two dozen people who I believed knew me very well, to honestly describe me in three words. The result was 72 plus mostly positive words and phrases that I then grouped by meaning and further narrowed down to the three most common, which were fearless, determined and fun-loving. These are the essence of my brand and I felt pretty comfortable with them as they aptly articulated the elements of my personality that I felt were dominant and most importantly those that I felt I wanted to refine, amplify and transmit to my audience. The exercise itself forced me to look closely at myself and also make necessary adjustments. I’m still fearless and jump in but now I jump armed with more research. I’m still just as determined but also now believe “If it doesn't open, it's not your door,” and let a lot of things go. Sometimes a no really should be a no. I have also learned to be a bit more mindful with the sarcasm, understanding that it is not for everyone, I have learnt how to better read the room. These three words are now the blueprint for how I approach the world, ensuring that online, in-person, in speech and in writing that what I present resonates good humored fearlessness and determination. It is easy to stay on brand because it has become easy for me to be me. This is exactly what a personal branding journey should offer. It should be an opportunity to look inward and be better while telling an authentic story that will resonate so deeply with someone else that it will make them want to be better as well. Taking the time to develop your personal brand should be a lot more about a path to actualization and less about monetization which is a by-product. As you develop your brand and in turn yourself you will see how much better positioned you are for starting your own business or standing out in a job interview. We find ourselves in a world where because of social media we are more exposed and accessible than ever. We also find ourselves facing the aftermath of a pandemic that promises to leave in its wake changed economic realities for many. The time to construct an appealing, fascinating and one of a kind personal brand is now. Exercise:
Spend a fair amount of time in deep thought, thinking about how you view yourself, how you think people view you and how you want yourself to be viewed.
Settle on the three most dominant personality traits. These should be positive, honest and reflect what you want to highlight to your TRIBE.
Reach out to as many people as possible who you believe know you well and will be honest with you. Ask them to describe your personality with three words that as much as possible have different meanings.
Group the words by meaning and further narrow down to the three most common; one from each group.
If these three words are in alignment with what you believe are your dominant traits, it means that you are well on your way to a congruent personal brand identity. If they don’t align, have no fear. You now have the opportunity to dive even deeper and now choose the traits you want to amplify and chart a course to actively do just that. When all is said and done, we are the ones who control our narratives.
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