This past week was a hefty week of workshops for me. From leading a discussion around Executive Presence for the Center for Women and Enterprise to a session on Owning First Impressions for our internal Latino Inclusion Network, I have recently experienced a true deep dive into the reality that part of personal brand management includes managing perceptions. While this is a basic reality in the process of personal brnanding, this week’s experiences too me back to something I heard Carla Harris, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, once shared at a conference I attended:
“Perception is the co-pilot to reality.”
At the end of the day, what this really gets at is the fact that what is true is always linked to what is “true”. Confused much? I know. So here’s what I mean: How we show up in this world when we commit to being authentic, owning our brand, and being truly comfortable in our own skin reflects our true selves. Essentially, with this approach and mode of operating, our core is reflected in what others see. The challenge is that our true selves are seen through the filters of other’s perceptions of what is “true” to them. The opportunity here is to keep in mind that with an intentional effort to “show up” as your most authentic self, representing yourself at your best, living your brand, you can definitely influence perception.
The most important things to keep in mind as you direct your “co-pilot”:
- No matter what others think of you, what’s most important is what you think of you. At the end of the day, when no one is looking, no one is around, when you’re left standing in your different moments of solitude, reflecting, what do you think of you? Are you happy with who you are and how you’re showing up? Is how you show up in line with how you want to be perceived, or are you operating a façade that makes you more “acceptable” to others you interact with? Be good to yourself and gift you the gift of self-acceptance based on living true to you.
- Perception, when shared, is nothing more than feedback. You determine if it actually becomes direction. Most recently, I was advised to use more humor when I present to a particular audience that I work with every now and then. The feedback was that with this group, I tend to be a bit too formal. While the person is someone whom I really respect, admire and greatly appreciate being very candid with me as a friend and coworker, I’ve accepted her feedback but not yet committed to applying it. Definitely taking it into consideration, but not direction to operate, or “show up” in a way that I’m not yet comfortable. This is what it means to truly own your brand-being open to feedback but being very clear with yourself about what adjustments and evolutions will be made for your own growth and development.
- There’s no short cutting to brand/perception management: To really show up intentionally, in alignment with your personal brand, you’ve definitely got to go through the process of self-discovery, definition and distinction. Really take the time to discover what it is about you that makes you unique, determine how you want to be perceived by defining how you show up, and committing to how you will impact everyone you interact with. Ultimately, you’ve got to make a commitment to meeting our own expectations around this entire process.