Are you the exact same person you were 10 years ago or have your aspirations changed? Do people perceive you as you are today or as you were “back then”?
As we learn, grow and change, we can get so busy that we neglect to change our personal brand to reflect our new aspirations. This makes it hard for others to see us as we are now, and makes it difficult for them to help us achieve our goals.
When your aspirations change, your brand needs to reflect it so that others are operating on the correct information about who you are now.
Recently, I had an experience that reminded me of this dynamic.
We all want prestige
I attended an event hosted by my business school’s alumni association. It was at one of Britain’s oldest, most prestigious private clubs. It’s the kind of club whose membership includes former prime ministers and Knights of the British Empire.
There was a time in my career when becoming a member of such a club would have been hugely desirable. As a banker, the business connections and opportunities would have set me apart. It would have been aspirational yet impossible as women have only been admitted in recent years. Yet I still longed to be invited to join something similar.
But last week, when I walked into the club as a guest, my reaction was, “this isn’t for me at all.”
Yes, the mahogany-lined walls, high ceilings and genuine silver service were beautiful. And the pedigree of the club’s members remains as impressive as ever. But I had moved on.
When aspirations change
I hadn’t realized until that moment just how much my thinking and aspirations had changed.
Back in the day, I was conservative and cautious. Like any good banker! And I valued tradition, security and established ways. Perhaps coming from a Chinese heritage with thousands of years of history also contributed to these values.
But these days, I’m an entrepreneur and I feel open-minded and courageous. I like to think of myself as having a “millennial mindset”: open, curious, engaged, and interested in exploring new ideas and new ways of doing things. What’s prestigious to me now is thought leadership and new ideas rather than traditional established processes and structures.
My aspirations have changed. And along with that, my brand – as in who I am and what I want to project – has changed too.
So when the club secretary kindly suggested that I consider membership and handed me the packet of materials, I couldn't help but note the irony. Now that I have the possibility of membership, it may not suit my brand and aspirations anymore.
Making the shift
If you’re learning, growing and changing, this kind of shift will happen to you too. Hopefully more than once!
What you need to do as your aspirations and personal brand evolve is to be proactive about shifting the way others see you. That includes what you choose to wear, how and with whom you decide to spend your time, and the clubs or groups you join as a member. It all reflects on you.
If your brand is evolving, then be intentional and proactive about who you associate with. Those choices can either accelerate or hinder your progress in getting others to see you for who you have become.
What you can do
So as your aspirations change, to bring your personal brand and reputation along with you, here are three things you can do.
- Get in touch with what makes you unique: your strengths, special capabilities, your personality and attitude. This forms the basis for your personal brand.
- Discover how others perceive your brand: is it accurate or outdated? Or maybe you’re not even on their radar yet?
- Be proactive and intentional about changing perceptions: put new information out there through your associations, how you behave, how you dress, and the company you keep. It’s up to you to take the lead.
If you’re interested in working on your personal brand and discovering what makes you unique, then join us at Career Mastery Kickstart where experts will cover these topics during the week:
- How to Discover Your Brand and Make It Work For You
- How to Convey Your Personal Brand Without Looking Like an Idiot
- How to Outperform at Work by Leveraging Your Zone of Genius®
So, has your personal brand evolved as your aspirations have changed, or does it need changing too to better represent who you are now? Leave a comment and let me know.