To me being your own Superhero simply means being 100% comfortable with who you are; being someone who you and others can believe in and trust; someone who people want to follow because all Superhero’s have henchman, sidekicks and followers.
But ask yourself this. Why would anyone be led by you, what do you bring that would engender that trust? Real Heroes inspire by example, being your own hero is about rising to the occasion, being the best you can be, having a purpose, conviction and helping others
It’s tough to always be your true self these days when there is so much pressure to be like someone else, to adopt a look or a behaviour to appear more popular or on trend or even just accepted. And at work, everyone is hard wired to be a success; many of us are naturally competitive and we want to get on in our career so feel the pressure to conform or compromise in order to succeed. fearful that saying no or expressing the opposite opinion could be career limiting. Big companies have pervasive cultures with all sorts of unspoken norms which we need to navigate. It’s particularly difficult in a Client service relationship to stay consistent when the paying customer insists they are right. But if you don’t stay constant you stand to lose your integrity and ultimately their respect.
So how do you balance being you with delivering on expectations, perceived or actual and still sleep at night???
When I started out on my Personal Branding venture, I figured I should practice what I preach and create my own Brand Board. A very wise associate who was sort of mentoring me at the time suggested an extremely insightful exercise which I later attribute to the famous Steve Jobs quote ‘you can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards’.
Start by going all the way back to when you were at school – what subjects did you choose and why. When did you first become a leader? Were you a sports captain, or a monitor? What about first and second jobs, why did you choose the firm, the remit, the profession. What or who have been the biggest influences on your decisions: Parents, Friends? Why have you done some of the stuff you’ve done and what were the outcomes
This might end up as a 20-page doc and that’s fine you can edit it but first look for themes, patterns of behaviour, things you have repeated without really knowing why. What does all this tell you about your drivers and values.
I was reminded as a result of doing this exercise that I had on 3 previous occasions tried to go it alone. FirstWoman is the 4th because on every occasion I had been seduced back into a full time role by the company I was contracting for, turns out financial security is a huge driver for me but also a fear I need to conquer because it comes from lack of self-belief……so when I was approached only a few weeks ago to apply for a part-time Marketing Director position, I found myself sorely tempted but steeled my nerve and said no because this time I need to do this and having that insight and being able to acknowledge that fear really helped
This is the start of developing Superhero qualities; an authentic personal brand, a deep understanding of who you are and why you do what you do.
We all know and trust well-known brands that we use every day but spare a moment to think about what your own brand is telling the world online and offline because guess what, you already have one! Your Personal Brand can expose your desired audiences to your vision, skillset and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals or it could be sending out completely the wrong message. Another useful exercise – If you haven’t ever Googled yourself…..it’s definitely worth doing.
Perception & Reputation
You need to be able to manage the opinions that are being formed about you, as in terms of career (and life) your reputation and what people think about you can have a big impact on what and where you end up. All brands are built on their reputation and what people are saying about you is not necessarily what you are saying about yourself.
Nowadays competency is a hygiene factor and companies are looking to hire those who don’t just look good on paper but who also look like they can contribute to the company culture, are fun, easy to work with and who get stuff done. Social platforms LinkedIn particularly has allowed people to showcase these areas of their brand and build networks of influence which mean a CV is kind of redundant, Your Personal Brand allows you to create a first impression before you’ve even met a would-be interviewer which gives you a huge competitive advantage, with a Personal Brand you are already so much more than a piece of paper
Be Known For Something
You want to be instantly recognisable for something positive as soon as your name is spoken, you have to brand yourself so no-one else can. Are you an inspiration, a force, are you a safe pair of hands, that person who gets stuff done, a great team player, Think about what it is you want to be known for, make that your super power and build your brand around it.
People are drawn to authenticity. Not what you do but Why you do it. Having a believable professional purpose transcends salary and job title. Your purpose is not your job. Your purpose is not to earn money. That might be an objective, an outcome even but it’s definitely not a purpose. You are not the work that you do, you are the person you are.
Knowing who you are, what you’re about and being 100% comfortable with that gives you an indestructible inner confidence. The confidence to present your best self in all situations even the tough ones. Confidence is everything, people look at how you show up.
For me Confidence is without doubt the biggest benefit of having a Personal Brand. Not only do other people find confidence supremely attractive it also gives you resilience. If you are being judged it doesn’t matter because you rock right? Why would you want to change who you are to conform or to be a second-rate version of someone else, that’s a hiding to nothing.
The world accommodates those who fit in but rewards those who stand out.