For seven years I worked alongside one of the world’s most successful supermodels. I acted as her personal publicist and played my small part in helping her on her path to world fame. She worked incredibly hard and I witnessed first hand, the power of a personal brand.
Over the years, I was approached to be interviewed and discuss public relations and my own area of expertise. Unfortunately, perfectionism and self-criticism stood in my way. How could I possibly promote myself? I was not the star?
I am not alone. The results of Australia’s biggest mental health check found that women are more likely to suffer from perfectionism and self-criticism. According to the research, 33 percent of women had high perfectionism scores, compared to 21 percent of men. Looking at self-criticism, 44 percent of women exhibited this trait, compared to 34 percent of men.
You might think perfectionism and self-criticism are two perfectly good reasons not to promote yourself. However according to experts in the field, the more you live in spite of your insecurities, the less power you give those same insecurities. Alternatively, they may end up being traits people love most about you.
For example, Mike Cannon Brookes, self-made billionaire and Founder of Atlassian, admitted he has felt like an imposter for his entire career during a recent TEDx talk . His heartfelt admission touched hearts and opened minds. Everyone in the audience fell a little more in love with him and his personal brand.
Or take it from Lean In author and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who said: “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”
When it comes to putting yourself out there and building a personal brand, the market does not want to see perfect. Shiny and perfectly scripted is a thing of the past. The market wants real, honest and thoughtful.
In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are’, New York Times bestselling author Brene Brown says:
“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
Your personal brand, when established, will become an asset no one can take away from you. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your own life and opens you up to new opportunities. To be seen is to be heard and to be heard is to have influence. To have influence is an option we all have, especially in today’s world of social media and online networking.
We talk of women not being represented, perhaps it is time we all represent ourselves and be brave enough to be seen. In an article published by Forbes magazine, Kathy Caprino sums it up perfectly:
“Personal branding is not a “nice to have” today – it’s an essential endeavour for all professionals who want to advance, thrive, and grow.”
I can only imagine where my personal brand would be today if I had the courage to put myself out there back then. I will never really know. All I can do is work on where I want to be in the next 5 years and have the courage to be seen as perfectly imperfect. I hope you will do the same.