Back in the day I used to wear so many different hats. I’d be someone responsible for my parents, someone a bit aloof with my sister, someone gregarious for my friends. I had a very confused personal brand and if I’d been able to get all these people in one room at the same time, I would have heard them saying ‘who are you? Stop, why are you trying to be someone you’re not?’
I notice a lot of women do the same thing to get ahead. They feel they have to be one of the blokes or look and sound a certain way or tone themselves down because they’re too ‘much’. It never ends well, as I can attest to personally—it’s exhausting, pointless and confusing! You usually get caught out and become incredibly unhappy by being someone you’re not.
Granted, you might be the unicorn person who it works for. Perfect. Keep doing you and all the other yous! Tell me your secret next time we meet. Because that wasn’t my experience. When I look back on my phase being someone I wasn’t, I was always chasing my tail trying to remember which Julie I was that day.
It was a lot of work. It’s almost embarrassing now, but when I was at work I used to be Party Animal Julie. Carefree, fun, countdown to Friday, long lunch then off to drinks straight afterwards, always trying to make people feel good. I had a ball, I was really good at my job and thought everyone responded well to that version of me.
But it got to the stage where I wasn’t demonstrating my potential to fulfil the particular role I aspired to. That’s a mouthful. I wasn’t getting the jobs I wanted. I wasn’t getting the feedback I wanted. People didn’t see me in the capacity I saw myself in.
That’s when a work friend suggested I rein it in a bit and be more authentic at work. Told me to stop being someone I wasn’t. Told me I was being a bit of a dick. That was the feedback I needed. The ‘slap across the face’ feedback.
Here’s two effective steps to take to stop being someone you’re not.
- You have to hold the mirror up in front of your own face and really see you for who you are. That can be challenging and it can take five minutes or five years. Up to you how honest you are and how much you want to break the exhausting cycle of inauthenticity!
- Ask people you trust who will be honest with you for feedback. Ask what the five words are that they would use to describe you if you weren’t in the room. That is powerful, valuable, free insight that I would recommend you don’t ignore.
Trust me, people will still love you if you adjust your set a little bit to sharpen up the picture. Having a confused personal brand and being someone you’re not is tiring, confusing and tough to maintain. You probably have better things to do with your time! I know I do!