There is much written on how to ‘create’ a personal brand.
Thing is, you can’t. Not an authentic one, anyway. Personal branding isn’t a shiny new logo, website or tagline. That’s decoration. And a true personal brand can’t be copied from others, or constructed from thin air.
Think of the most memorable women you know, real or imagined, living or dead. Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Frida Kahlo… The fact you know of them means they have a personal brand. And chances are, the women who spring into your mind, not one of them has a personal brand that was created by a marketing company, ad agency or branding specialist. They have a personal brand because they unapologetically, single-mindedly pursued their own path.
Personal branding is the journey of defining yourself, professionally and personally, in order to leave an impression in the hearts and minds of others.
What most people don’t realise, is that this definition – a true personal brand – only arises through letting go. (Conversely, learning to let go can be attained through the process of personal branding.) What I mean by this, is that you can only be ‘defined’ in the eyes of yourself or others when you remove and release the noise and clutter around you. You must let go of anything that is copied, constructed or contrived from the world around you in order to attain true clarity, courage, conviction, confidence…
A principle of Taoism, letting go is one of the hardest and most rewarding things for humans to do. Want true serenity, power, focus and freedom? Let go.
Like all hard, rewarding things in this world, letting go takes ongoing practice… Whether it’s the clothes in your wardrobe that represent another time and now make you feel trapped, or your need to control a situation because you fear uncertainty and chaos, change and growth can only happen when you make space for them by letting go. Your personal brand is no different.
The concept of letting go has been looming large in my life – and the lives of my clients – lately. Ruthless ‘removal, refusal and restriction’ are the tenets I teach to my female clients in order for them to reach and retain the burning clear brand that is inside them (this is important to note: your personal brand is only to be found inside you; it is never an external creation).
One thing that happens as a result of this letting go is that your world becomes much smaller. When you no longer tolerate the unnecessary, and you are unapologetic and open about this (when you own it, and own up to it, and then model it for others), things drop away – people, places, projects, distractions, social conventions and expectations… This is scary for most people (particularly as it seems counter-intuitive to brand-building, and as you will get push-back from those around you who are challenged by your focus). But if you are brave and persist through this scariness, the reward is that your world goes on to become much, much larger. Your inner clarity, courage and conviction (your personal brand) becomes so laser sharp that a multitude of new external possibilities and opportunities arises for you. This is why only the most fearless women will have a personal brand that means anything in our over-stuffed world.
Letting go is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done – personally and professionally – and I have to work on it, each and every day. But I know with utter conviction that is is the only way to approach this journey of defining myself.
Letting go is the ONLY concept you need to master if you want a personal brand that is enduring and authentic. Your personal brand will emerge when you let go of everything that is no longer you, and no longer serves you (identity), your work (calling) and your end game (desires).