Personal Image: Craft the Right One For You

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It might hurt your feelings or at the least, feel unfair – but guess what? Your personal brand manifests itself a whole lot from how you consistently behave, promote, and present yourself. This holds true especially in person, because now you are being judged by non-verbal traits, body language, likeability and the impression you make of who you are and what your values might be. Bitch all you want, but this is the way life is and will always be.

It is real, no matter how insistent people are that it is not.

Before you start rebutting with a wrinkled forehead, drop what ought to be and think about it: If you are walking through a dangerous neighborhood and someone is walking towards you, you might very well begin devising beliefs and conclusions about the person coming at you: Is this person to be trusted? Should I run? Do they seem friendly? I am not presenting logical progressions of thought – this are quick judgements based on the environment and image of the person you’re about to be mugged by, smiled at or ignored.

It is no different in any business environment, job interview, meeting or networking situation – you’re getting judged, so deal with it and deal with it effectively – lest you don’t believe it will affect your brand. In a nutshell, others judge you first based on how you present yourself.

Now pretend I just wrote out a bunch of cliché’s, similar to; “You have one chance to make a good first impression..” and bla bla bla. Truth is all studies available conclude that non-verbal communication accounts for how people judge you. Are you credible, confident, interesting, lazy, disorganized, or insecure? If you’re perceived as arrogant and unapproachable, I’m less likely to want to get to know you, less hire you. Unless it’s for the position of Line Producer – because the bigger a-hole you are, the more I’m going to want you to be my personal a-hole, so I don’t have to be.

Have you ever changed the way you naturally act in order to fit in? I’m writing this in my underwear, but I’ve often dressed down to make myself blend in or worn outfits so I looked more like my peers. When I was in college and needed to make a big presentation to the class, I actually dressed like the professor usually did. When I got into the entertainment business, I learned how to articulate myself and emphasize my passion and energy — and it worked. Pride is a biggie in terms of destroying your life, do feel free to drop it any time now.

How Do You Want People to Feel About Your Image?

Consider these items:

Quality clothes that are appropriate

Buy the best quality you can afford – proper attire is an investment that will go far if you spend wisely. Your individual style should shine and be consistent with your personal brand as much as possible. Be honest about the image you think you currently have and what you think your style says about you. Do you put effort into how you look? Are you trying to set yourself apart or fit in? Not saying one is better – just saying be honest.

Look at photographs

The mirror is the biggest liar in history. You do not look to others like you look in the mirror. Analyze whether you are sending the right message with the way you’re presenting yourself. Does your clothing look outdated though your business is very cool and modern? Be discerning and remove anything that says something about you that isn’t in line with your desired image and personal brand.

THEN – Take control of your image

I cannot emphasize enough how much your image needs to be honest. If you’re a CPA, your “bad boy” image isn’t going to be leather jeans and a spiked collar. You can use image to shift how you are perceived, but it’s difficult to use it to completely change who you are. Do a bit of soul searching to bridge the gap between who you are, how you are perceived and how you want to be perceived going forward. Always remember that talking the talk isn’t enough — you have to walk the walk as well.

How many people take a lifetime to figure this out and then say, “I can’t believe I just wasn’t myself from the beginning?” As a bonus – you’ll feel better about yourself in the bargain.

Developing your personal image can be irritating and can seem like something successful people are just natural at, but a bit overwhelming for the rest of us.

While you know it’ll help you advance in your career, maybe you’ve been holding off, because you’re not quite sure when, where or how to begin dealing with your image. Start off with some straight forward stuff:

  • Make sure when someone Googles you, they find results you want them to
  • Build out a personal website
  • Write a stellar LinkedIn resume. Lay it on thick.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that your self-image is critical at this juncture. When you love yourself, you will not try so hard to please other people. Your confidence will not be so closely tied to people’s opinions, which may vary from day to day. You will be self-sufficient and less needy. You’ll do better in life in general and your profession, specifically.

A healthy self-image keeps you from beating yourself up over the slightest mistake. You learn to forgive yourself and stop reaching for a standard that is impossible to achieve. With this kind of attitude, you become more relaxed about life, and that will minimize your inner stress. If you believe in yourself, you will not be afraid of new experiences and challenges. Because you engage in activities that promote growth and self-development, your chances of success grows too.

Okay, enough with the therapy, but you know I’m right that no one can hurt us faster and more efficiently than ourselves. By developing a healthy self-image, you will feel like you deserve the good things in life. You will be more accepting of blessings when they come, and pursue things that make you happy. When we have a poor self-image, we don’t think we’re deserving, and we sabotage our happiness in subtle ways.

People always talk about “demons” and they are a real thing – but the good news is your demons are just part of you. Cast them out.

Crafting the right (and successful) image involves the following:

  • What kind of person you think you are
  • What you think you look like physically
  • Your interpretation of how other people see you
  • What you are in comparison to other people
  • How much you like YOU
  • How much you think other people like YOU

Don’t confuse this as many do, with self-esteem. Self-Esteem is how you FEEL about yourself. Self-Image is how you SEE yourself and how you believe other people SEE YOU. It is more of a perception, and it is not always backed up by facts. Merely being conscious of the way you see yourself is a move in the right direction. Also – work on these, from “The World Counts”

Stop being a perfectionist. Accept that nothing in life is perfect. Mistakes will be made and that is all a part of growth. When you make a mistake, accept it and learn from it. It requires humility, and faith that you will do better next time.

Control Your Thoughts. We have this inner critic inside our head that we sometimes take too seriously. It whispers constructive or destructive thoughts inside our heads. Listen to your inner critic, but take its opinions with a grain of salt. Don’t believe its judgement readily. When you hear destructive thoughts snowballing, say something to steer your thoughts into a productive path.

Developing Your Brand: Who Are You?

Assess Yourself Honestly. This may be where you’ll experience a pushback from yourself. It’s difficult for people to accept their weaknesses and shortcomings objectively. But if you learn how to see yourself for all that you are, you will see that along with the negatives, you have positive and lovable traits which can be developed and highlighted. Our self-image takes a nosedive when we focus on the negatives and fail to appreciate the totality of who we are.

Change What You Can and Let Go of What You Cant. You hate your hair, your nose, or your body? These days, there are ways to change that without compromising your health. Consult a hairdresser, get a nose job, and exercise. Do what you can to improve on what you have. But you must also know when enough is enough. Don’t allow yourself to be like the celebrities who went through plastic surgery so many times they look like aliens. So, you want to have a better career and be as successful as your friends? This is where assessing yourself honestly will play a part. When you see yourself for who you really are, you will see the areas of improvement, and you can build on your weak traits. Humility is a crucial factor of learning. Only those who can accept that they don’t know everything, will actively seek wisdom.

Breaking Into Show Biz

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. It’s hard not to, right? But when our self-image is based on how we compare to other people, we will be in a constant state of frustration. There will always be someone better, more beautiful, stronger, smarter and richer than we are. Build your self-image based on what YOU have accomplished so far. Compete only with you. Strive to be better than you were yesterday. There is a saying that goes, “When the grass looks greener on the other side, it’s time to work on your own grass.” Focus on you. How you have lived your life and how you can improve the results of your own actions.

It isn’t easy to figure out what is wrong with you. Changing it is even harder.

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