I am going out on a limb by saying that certain “truisms” in personal branding and career coaching can actually hinder your personal brand. In general, these truisms provide reasonable advice, but I’m afraid that they can be used as an excuse for maintaining the status quo.
Let’s look at a couple of them:
Hindering Truism #1: Focus on Your Strengths, and Forget the Rest.
It’s important to know your strengths and what you are good at doing. But, I think the advice to focus only on what your current strengths are versus what you could and should develop as strengths is dangerous.
Personal branding assessments can be helpful in understanding your current brand. But, then you need to look at your career goal in the context of today’s market environment and identify the aspirational brand that will get you there faster. Your desired brand goal should build upon your strengths, but should not be limited to your current competencies.
Somewhat related is the next potentially dangerous tip.
Hindering Truism #2: Be Yourself (You Can’t Be Someone Else)
Before I get a lot of hate mail, hear me out. It may be comforting to think that your best brand is just being who you are today. But, would if, being who you are is holding you back?
At the beginning of my career, I was terrified of client presentations and public speaking because I felt so awkward. I could have just said, “Being an inspiring speaker is just not me. I don’t want to pretend to be someone I’m not.” Instead, I faced my fears and decided that even if I didn’t feel comfortable speaking in public, I wanted to train to get better. Had I been satisfied with the status quo, I wouldn’t have the opportunities (speaking and otherwise) that I have today.
“I’m not a warm-and-fuzzy guy, that’s just not me.” No one is asking him to do a 180-degree transformation, but working on people skills and showing some empathy would probably help his career.
“I’m shy and quiet. Being more dynamic socially just isn’t me.” There is nothing wrong with having a quiet personality, but being so shy that you can’t introduce yourself to others could be career limiting.
Don’t hide behind “truisms” about personal branding to avoid improving yourself. Embrace your aspirations and learn ways to improve your brand. Being yourself may soon mean being the new you!