How to Develop an Authentic Brand "You"

Two quotes and Performance Day at sleep away camp. No, it’s not a new sitcom…these sparked today’s post.

Let me explain.

A few weeks ago, I heard two quotes in a couple of interviews that’ve been gnawing at my soul ever since…they SO resonated with me.

Comparison is the thief of joy

And…

Authenticity has no competition.

I could probably drop the mic, or rather close my computer, right here. Those words truly speak volumes. Don’t they?

Take a moment to reread them, slowly. Say each aloud. Take a moment to let them sink in. Moving, right???

They remind me how futile it is to compare myself to or to compete with others. In doing so, I lose my ability to experience the joy of my own authentic journey.

Like I said, these “big ideas” have been flowing in and out of my active thoughts for a couple of weeks. Then, this past weekend, I saw my fourteen-year old perform at sleep away camp. And it all came together for me.

This daughter is what some would call shy and on the quiet side. She has always been an observer as her older brother often takes center stage and tends to speak for her. However, through her love of the arts, she has learned multiple instruments (some self-taught) and she courageously explores new things that interest her. She has found and cultivated her own voice. I like to call it her own kind of Fierce. (Watch out, Sasha!)

She took to the stage at camp, grabbed an electric guitar, and belted out “Valerie,” a song made famous by Amy Winehouse. She exuded...confidence...poise...giftedness. (And I'm not just saying that because she's my daughter!)

I watched her and couldn’t help thinking, THIS is what “doing you” looks like.

We live in a world that baits our insecurities into comparison and competition. It requires a conscious decision followed by diligent discipline to resist that temptation and to discover and develop uniqueness, the authentic self.

How? People ask me. Begin with you.

EXPLORE YOU

What do you love? What are you drawn to? What do you feel passionate about? Start a running list. Give yourself some time to explore different items that come up…and remain top of mind. I used to think that I loved markers and pens because I was a classroom teacher for so many years. Staedtler, Tombow, and Vis-à-vis are just a few of my favs. But as it turns out, I had not consciously explored my passion for creating visual art nor had I made the connection that that was at the root of my pen fetish. I don’t know where this interest will take me in the future but right now my bullet journal is my canvas.

DITCH THE HATERS

You know exactly who I mean…those people in your life who’d like you to remain manageable for them. They ask questions like, Why would you want to do that? Why would you want to go there? What is wrong with you…why do you like watching that? RUN, do not walk, away from those relationships. They are limiting. We are multi-faceted beings. There is no one expression of you. Yet, we tend to live beneath our potential genius and function accordingly. And that type of life restriction is often co-signed by members of our circles. Love them from afar, if possible and move on to the next step.

RESHAPE YOUR CIRCLE

Look beyond your current peer group. Begin to surround yourself with the kind of people you want to become. Choose based upon interest; they may share a similar passion as you. Or choose based upon how they model authentic living. I count authors of books and podcast hosts as my “circle” members and mentors. I actively seek to learn from their examples and to apply that understanding to my own journey. Try it. Add one new circle member every few months. 

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME

First, let me share a little celebrated truth…the secret to having support is to give it. If you cannot find a community of like-minded people, create one. Be open to how that may look. A face to face group may not be realistic. It could be a group chat with a few women that share your commitment to doing life authentically. Or maybe create a Facebook group to cast a larger net. With all the tech tools that are available today, there is no shortage of ways to connect and build a community. Put in the effort.

OWN YOUR STORY

We all have areas of our pasts (or present) that we’d rather not share with the world. And I’m not advocating that we should. However, be open to your whole story. No matter how embarrassing or tragic elements of it may be, you’ve been shaped by them and that is part of your uniqueness. To deny any part of your story is a denial of self, another way to limit you. Take the limits off and own your story. Maybe you’ll never share those parts of it but embrace that they exist and that they contribute to the beauty of you.

This is an open call for you to “do you,” to develop the brand "you." It's an opportunity for you to turn up the volume on who you are and live an out loud, authentic life. There are gifts in you that are meant to be contributed to the world. So, take to the stage of your life and be you…unapologetically.

Until next time…

XO,

R