Melbourne-based Michelle Gibbings has more than 20 years' experience in leading and guiding people through change across multiple sectors and industries.
Changing things starts with learning – about yourself and others - and being constantly curious about the way things could be and your place in making that reinvention happen.
It was the brilliant Oscar Wilde who said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
And yet, in many quarters of society, we see people who lose their voice and authenticity in an attempt to be liked by everyone or to appease both sides of an ideological divide.
Being yourself is about being true to who you are, while also accepting that complacency is never the breeding ground for success and there are always things you can improve.
Know yourself and what you stand for
Becoming the best version of ‘you’, starts with knowing yourself and understanding what you stand for. Research from Kellogg University shows that when a person stops being their authentic self, it causes psychological distress, which can have ongoing emotional and physical ramifications.
It also impacts how people perceive and relate to them. For example, colleagues and team-mates notice when a person shifts and changes their behaviour and ideas. They’ll see the disconnect between what the person says and what they do.
This breeds distrust, as the person’s credibility and integrity is in doubt.
When people no longer know what you stand for, they start to question the intent of your actions – making it far harder for them to collaborate and support you.
In contrast, when you are authentic and stand up for what you believe in, have a clear personal brand and behave consistently, it’s far easier to form long lasting relationships.
Understand how others see you
Seth Godin writes about how a company’s brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, when considered together, determine the reason why a person chooses one product or service over another.
Your personal brand is essentially what springs to mind when people think about you. It’s created through a combination of what you say and do, and how you make other people feel. It is also what you are known for.
Are you the person who gets things done? Are you the strategist or deep thinker? Are you the person who is known for building awesome teams? Are you the technocrat?
The challenge arises when what you are known for doesn’t align with what you’d like to be known for.
For example, if you’d like to be seen as a visionary leader who builds awesome teams, and you are seen as the technical expert, then there is a mismatch in expectations.
A mismatch may result in your career aspirations being unfulfilled.
If the people around you don’t see you in the way you want to be seen, you won’t get the role, promotion, job assignment or whatever it is you are striving to secure.
Reshape how you are seen
Reshaping how people see you doesn’t happen overnight.
It starts with being clear on how people currently see ‘you’ and how you see ‘you’. The only way to do this is to ask people, and for you to dig deeply into how you see yourself.
Once you have those details, look at the responses and reflect, considering:
Where is the commonality?
Where are the gaps?
What most surprised you?
What do you think this is telling you?
What part of your self are you prepared to reinvent and change in some way?
Tom Peters said: “All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
Putting your best self forward means you need to sometimes say goodbye.
We all hold on to fears, assumptions and even grudges that don’t serve us. We have expectations on others that don’t help the relationship. We have expectations of ourselves that need to change, too.
Just as hoarders need to clean out their closets and throw away junk that is cluttering their home, it’s helpful to clean out your thoughts and to throw away ideas and pre-conceived conceptions that are unhelpfully holding you back from progressing.
What am I holding on to that is preventing me from changing and moving forward in some way?
Am I holding on to expectations or grudges with people that is damaging my relationship with them?
Are my expectations of myself too hard or too easy?
What am I telling myself about what I can and can’t do that needs to shift?
What daily practices and habits do I have that are holding me back from being the best version of me?
Changing things starts with learning – about yourself and others – and being constantly curious about the way things could be and your place in making that reinvention happen.As the well-known author of The Alchemist and other best-selling titles, Paulo Coelho said: “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”
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