If you feel confused about your passions, your purpose or your mission in life, you’re not alone.
If you’ve been struggling with your “personal brand,” and you’ve been trying to get it down on paper or understand how to talk about it, stop and look inside.
Who are you?
What story has your life been telling?
Because your story, your experiences, your unique skills and talents prepare you to do something that you actually want to do.
Your “personal brand” isn’t just some newfangled invention, it’s a way of describing the essence of who you are and what you can do in that way no one else can.
It’s your je ne sais quoi.
Because unless you’ve spent your entire life (not just your work life) doing things you don’t like to do, there’s a “you” in there somewhere, with things that light you up inside.
But the point is that your life’s story, your interests, and your talents, passions and experiences are all pointing you in a direction of something. Not only something you’ll love to do, but something that comes naturally to you. Something you won’t trip up about when an interviewer asks you about it, because it’s something your best friend might ask you about.
It’s something you know. Something authentic. Something you.
So don’t let the term ‘personal brand’ scare you. It’s not scary at all.
It’s just the Story of You.
Does the fact that what you’re here to do is be “you” mean that mean you’re ready to quit tomorrow?
Life’s not that easy, and chances are you’ll need to do some more work in any number of areas before you make the move to a new job you like better than the one you have now.
You might need to prepare more financially or psychologically. Or you might have to take courses, get certified, or pass some other standard measure.
Your job now is to understand the Story of You and translate it from “soul speak” to the language the job market speaks.
Talking ‘Personal Brand’ Or Passion
As I write this next part, I’m fully aware that I’m going to get some disagreement (or worse) in the comments below. And that’s totally fine. But I feel compelled to share these ideas with you, at the very least for you to chew on.
As you decipher your own Story of You, it’s your job to translate it to the people around you. You may have to connect the dots, and help people understand why what you’ve learned, loved and lived in your life so far has lead you to this place.
You’ll also have to decide how open, honest and authentic you want to be with various people, and whether there is a certain amount of strategy you will employ when speaking with them.
Some of you may think that you shouldn’t be strategic at all, and instead be totally transparent, honest and full-bore with your story and your passion about it.
But training programs, potential employers, people who accept you as an intern, whoever and whatever you might encounter in the next step in your career, may not want to hear that your life’s story has been leading you here, to this place where you’re doing work that for you is heart-centered.
Maybe certain people do, and certainly the people you want in your life do, but you you may want to be judicious about when and with who you use “fluffy” language, and when you decide to use language that “sells” you.
Because when you’re looking for a job, you’re at a power disadvantage relative to those people doing the hiring, and it’s in your interest to recognize it.
There is a duality in the job market that can eat heart-centered people alive.
On the one hand, we hear a lot about being passionate about work – even in places as serious as the boardroom – but on the other hand talking about it in the wrong way to people can get us labeled “weird.”
You need to have passion, enthusiasm, and to never, ever dim your light. But you also have to be able to talk about yourself in a way that makes people take you seriously.
If you are someone who is going after work you feel passionate about, appearing “flaky” to people in power can mean bad things for your job search, and the threshold for flaky may be especially low if they don’t happen to be open to these ideas.
So be cognizant of this when you talk to people about how you feel about your work. What you say can and will be used against you!
Some of my clients are in a position financially to be able to hold out for that perfect job, where the people around them are all on the same wavelength and speak the same language about passion and purpose.
Others aren’t so lucky.
Maybe you fall into this second category.
And I’d be lying to you if I told you that the world is all peaches and cream and that no interviewer’s or co-worker’s eyes would ever glaze over when you start talking about work in language that feels right to you, but feels completely ungrounded to the person you’re talking to.
I don’t think of it as hiding your passion, but instead, of crafting the way you talk about it. Reshaping it into something that sounds more like a Story of You, or a personal brand.
Think about what you stand for and sell it to the market using terms the market finds palatable, not in terms of what touches your heart. You already know what touches your heart. Now the job of the words you use is to get you to a place where you land the job, get the promotion, or get whatever “yes” you seek.
Allow your words to do their job. Don’t undermine the job by insisting you use your words.
Because as much as I care about what you love, (and I really, really do) the world might not give a damn.
And understanding that will help you actually get the chance to do what you love anyway and keep your light shining instead of getting shut down by someone in power who just doesn’t get it.