I’ve never really liked the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it”. I remember the first time I heard it at the start of my career in management consulting. It instantly made me feel insincere, like a fraud. Vulnerable even. That feeling fuelled the fear that I was inadequate, not ‘enough’.
Of course, that phrase was meant to be encouraging – a push to lean into my edge and jump into the deep end. An opportunity to learn something new and expand my experience. A chance to grow and challenge myself. Still, I couldn’t get around that word – fake. I prided myself on being authentic, and living within my integrity. How could I pretend to be something or someone I wasn’t?
Fast forward to two years ago. I had done my coaching training a few years prior and had been coaching alongside my full time job. Things were going well, but I was still unsure whether I was experienced enough to transition to full time coaching. After some powerful coaching with my coach, I realised I was standing in my own way. All along I felt like I was faking it, when I just needed to start owning it!
It needed to start with how I positioned my “self” to the world. Around that time, my husband and I had moved to a new neighbourhood and we were meeting lots of new people. This was a fabulous opportunity to practice! With every introduction, someone would ask what I do for work. At first, I would start by explaining, “My background is in management consulting, but I currently work as an internal consultant focused on organisation design and development. However, I’m about to start my master’s, and…..” By the time I got to the part about coaching the person had already let out a yawn or was sending an S.O.S. for someone to please interrupt us! It was awful. Even though everything I was saying was true, it was all too much to take in. I needed to make my story more succinct. Shine a light on the most relevant parts of my story first.
The next opportunity presented itself. We introduced ourselves, and then there it was, “So, what do you do for a living?” Great, this was my chance. “I’m a coach!”, I blurted out. “What kind of a coach?”, she asked. Then with all the confidence I could muster, I said slowly, “I work with professionals who feel disconnected with their values and purpose, or who are looking to make significant changes in their lives. My clients are high performers who want to live more fulfilling lives. I work with them to design a lifestyle that enables them to do that.” The words felt good rolling off my tongue. I waited for the response, feeling nervous, but also excited. Then, I watched this person’s face light up as she remarked on how passionate I was, and how she’d love to connect me with a friend who was looking for a coach.
I did it. I owned it! And it felt GOOD! As soon as the word ‘coach’ left my lips, I felt connected and confident with the path I was on. From that conversation on, I didn’t feel like I was faking anything. Sure, I may not have had hundreds of clients at that point, and I was spending most of my time in my full time job, but I was still well within my integrity to own my role as a coach. In fact, the skills and experience I had built up until that point had led me straight down my current path.
It’s not about faking it. It’s about owning it. To me, faking it was about misrepresenting who I was or what I could do. Owning it was more about having the confidence to refocus all of my experience, training, and passion in a new direction. Transitioning required me to make a shift in how I articulated my personal brand to reflect the journey I was on and the new direction I was taking.
These days, I still see the shadows of imposter syndrome when I take on a new challenge or feel intimidated. However, I’ve gotten much better at using that as a reminder to check-in with my intentions and continue to tweak how I articulate my value. One of the ways I do that is to reflect on my unique combination of personality, beliefs, and goals. Here are a few ways to do that:
Reconnect with your identity: Who are you at your very core? This is your natural disposition, and what makes you you. Be aware of your core values: What are the rules that you live by? These are the parameters of your integrity. (TIP: If you’re not sure what your values are, make a list of your pet peeves and reflect on the themes. We are often triggered or irritated most by a conflict with our values.)Focus on the bigger picture: What is your ‘big goal’, your overarching purpose? This is about the broader impact you want to have on this world.
This is a starting point to articulating your personal brand by tapping into your authenticity. The process of branding is about getting to grips with who you really are and demonstrating that day-to-day – owning it, not faking it. From there you can forget the jargon and focus on taking on new challenges that bring you closer toward your most exciting (and sometimes scary) goals in the most authentic and fulfilling way.
If you’re keen to start shaping your personal brand or would like to go deeper, join me and Robbie Swale in London on 16th Oct for our workshop on Mastering Your Personal Brand, or sign up to receive our free video series on www.masteringyourpersonalbrand.com.