In my acting classes at the New York Film Academy, we were often taught about embracing our inner truth. I never understood the concept. I originally thought it was just an acting thing :P My teacher was strong, loud and confident. She was sure of herself and what she liked and didn’t like. She had so many stories about her days in acting class with Bradley Cooper! She was in touch with an incredible inner “knowing” of who she was. It was a core strength of utter authenticity. Over and above her clothing, there was an X-factor. It transcended a 1 dimensional existence. It was mesmerising! It was attractive! I wanted it! As the months rolled on, I threw myself into her teachings and soon came to a total understanding of the word “truth”. It wasn’t just an acting thing, it was a human thing. I ‘got’ that if we could learn to be free in our own unique footprints, we’d be so much more victorious in every day life.
So what is “Truth”?
IT’S NOT A BRAND
If you’re going to try and contain your inner workings, human psyche and organically fluctuating creative spirit (also known as being a human being) in a box labelled “brand”, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
When it comes to business, there are things to a brand which must be in place. They are super relevant and should be well-planned. But publisits globally have now started a trend toward extending that concept to the personal human being. To be honest, I did enjoy reading the Personal Branding for Dummies article on developing your private brand!
Personal branding has become a huge money-making realm. Coaches in it teach us to:
- calculate every part of ourselves precisely.
- manipulate ourselves to portray a desired “angle” to the public at all times.
To me, that’s not branding. That’s a forced existence. It also opens up the can of worms of living for others. Can we be free in our own thoughts, feelings and emotions if we are living for others? All the great minds of the world tell us the exact opposite. They say to live for no one but ourselves. The commercial seed of crafting an image to suit a brand in order to succeed may be a seedling in a garden of snakes in your head where you feel you can’t be yourself. Those snakes lead to things like depression.
IT’S NOT BOXING YOURSELF IN
Why do we have to harness the expansiveness of the human spirit to limit it to a specific way of being?
- a logo
- a colour scheme
- a fashion style
- a haircut
- an attitude
- a music taste
- a behaviour
- a profile on a social platform
I believe in giving people the freedom to come and go as they want. I believe it’s everyone’s right to decide how they want to do stuff. I personally like innovating constantly. I believe its a good way to be effective. When we box ourselves in to do certain things, we shadow the multi-faceted prism of human nature. We run the risk of putting a blanket over our natural “glow” which changes all the time. As individuals, we aren’t a business. We have an ebb and flow of likes and dislikes. We like to change. So I see a difficulty in needing to box ourselves in, the way businesses have to.
A Brand is the “design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”
IT’S NATURAL DISTINCTION
We all like distinction. But we must remember that we don’t need to do any work in trying to be distinct. As humans from totally different backgrounds, countries, personal histories, families, religions and cultures, we already are distinct. We can simply stand in that. We don’t need to try harder to stand out more. We are already individual just by being here. No one else has our story.
I wouldn’t be looking at this topic if it hadn’t come up as a theme in my own life. Many people ask me about how I crafted my “brand” and I have no idea what they mean. I’ve always gone with the flow of my spirit and what it likes, when it likes it.
The whole idea of personal branding highlights the importance to me to draw the distinction between being human and being a brand. It’s my belief we should do away with the pressure of “branding” ourselves if we’re ever to live naturally and freely in the world.
We want to live naturally so we can be empowered in ourselves; so we can be happy. I think we confuse ourselves by trying to assign adjectives and labels to our being. I believe we confuse ourselves when we copy what other people are doing. Some spend hours crafting their behaviour and appearance across all their portals because they think they should. It stops being healthy when it comprimises your sanity.
IT’S YOUR OWN STYLE
I have friends who are actors, writers, designers, musicians, bloggers, models. They’re people with good talents first and foremost. They’ve started:
- dressing in a certain way to be “appealing”
- posting updates on Facebook about topics they’re not really into
- instagramming certain things
- speaking in a certain way
- tailoring their Facebook pages to be a certain “look”
There’s a part of them that feels they have to. But it sounds like a lot of effort to stage themselves for the world. Rather cultivate your own style of talking online; post about what you really like. I value the power of branding and marketing/PR strategy in the workplace. But when living as a personal entity, I see more power in authenticity. We can have many tastes and celebrate our varied preferences on a daily basis. There’s no need to label any of it, or change it to suit the world. It’s our individuality that makes us special.
At castings, I see people come in having changed their hairstyle or “look” because their agent said they must be a different “brand”. They change themselves. They try to be someone they authentically aren’t. It’s a disservice to their natural strengths, which no one else has. People can make the mistake of thinking fashion defines them. It doesn’t. You can choose to be classic and simple this week, and next week wear a scruffy sundress with messy hair. One of the constraints personal branding puts on people is to stick to a certain fashion. Fashion can hide who we really are. A lot of time can be saved when we realise we don’t need to focus too much on the tactics of branding as the world knows it in our personal capacity. Simply have a core principle – you and your tastes – and the rest is fat on the bone.
IT’S YOUR X-FACTOR
If I think about it, let’s look at it practically. My husband one day won’t fit in to any “brand”. All I know is that the essence of his spirit will transcend what he’s wearing, what he’s driving, what music he’s listening to, how he acts, what his website looks like, what his instagram looks like, what he tweets or how popular he is on Facebook. My impression of him will be superior to all that. His business is one thing, his human-ness and personality is another. That’s his X-factor. His business needs a brand, he doesn’t. I know he will change every day. His tastes will evolve according to his truth, his fashion sense will transform over time, his values will change, his passions will vary. His simple, elegant “way of being” will fly in the face of any personal brand he meticulously crafted once. He won’t overthink his existence. And I won’t be able to put my finger on why I like him.
IT’S YOUR COMMON SENSE
Some things to me are common sense, not brand buzzwords. Things like:
- Be authentic
- Treat others with respect
- Stand out in your own way
I also believe we all know these things on a instinctive level. There’s a deep X-factor which is all of you that you cannot force or change. You can try to dress it up or manipulate it to stick to an “angle”, but that wouldn’t be truth. That wouldn’t be your common sense.
IT’S CHANGING EVERY DAY
When you put labels on yourself, you create a need to be loyal to “consistency” which brand building entails. This is pressure. As human beings, we are naturally inconsistent. Things are happening to us every day which shape how we think and how we do things. What I feel today will be different to what I feel tomorrow. To force yourself to be the same all the time could be suffocating. To force others to be the same is also suffocating. That’s a huge disservice to the mind. We should all give ourselves equal permission to flourish.
When you agree to trust and surrender to who you really are on a daily basis, you’ll have a deep contentment. You’ll stop needing to control yourself or others. Business is the only thing that needs a “spin” on it.
Truth begins with knowing who you are this morning and that you will grow and adapt by sunset. It’s enjoying your personal way of being and of doing. It’s not trying to understand it, it’s going with the flow of it. It’s being proud of it. My teacher knew that.
- It’s Not a Brand
- It’s Not Boxing Yourself In
- It’s Natural Distinction
- It’s Your Own Style
- It’s Your X-Factor
- It’s Your Common Sense
- It’s Changing Every Day
My teacher embraced these things. As a result, she was whole. It made her energy irresistable.
Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.
Photo: Death to the Stock