Day 4 of my 7 days of 5 things to end the year! Today’s list of 5 is related to your personal brand.

A few level-set concepts …

First, whether or not you work on it consciously, you are a brand. Second, your personal brand contributes to your team’s brand. This team could be your tribe of influencers and clients if you are a solo brand – or your corporate team if you work for a bigger brand. Finally, personal branding is the practice of authenticity. It’s not working on your image. It’s doing the inner work to produce an outer reputation.

Here are 5 practices to consider adopting. These are not formulas. They are concepts to establish a practice. Take them as your own and do them your way.

  1. Be a Human. There is no work version of you. There is no home version of you. There is no social version of you. Yes, those are different aspects of how others experience you but you are just you. Which means you are a human. You love. You fail. You get wounded. You achieve. You grow. You learn. Let other’s see all this. A simple tip to remind you to be a human … when someone asks you how you are doing, answer them with the truth! Not “fine”, “great” or some other filler.
  2. Be an Original Thinker.  Originality is the surest sign of an awake, thriving soul. It is evidence that you are creating, not just following. That you are producing your own music, not being a cover band for other people’s ideas. Sure, you can be inspired by others. But sit with your own thoughts and ideas. Share them. Test them. Change them. You know you are an original thinker when you share an idea and someone says “I’ve never thought about it that way before”. A simple tip … clear all of your vocabulary (written and spoken) of cliches. Cliches are the varnish that cover up the real wood of you.
  3. Build a Tribe. Call it your circle of influence, your friends, a mastermind, a cross-departmental team – it is all the same idea. Attract and find a small group of people that you have a connection with and go do something. Go solve a problem. Go create something. Go serve others. This tribe will be a constant source of new ideas, encouragement and the occasional kick in the ass. Further, this tribe will have your back when you aren’t around. A simple tip … everyone in your tribe should be energy positive. This doesn’t mean you always agree with them, have the same interests, etc. but it does mean that being around them is not a drain.
  4. Say No. One of our many mantras at Root + River is this: “You build your career by saying yes. You build your brand by saying no”. In relationships, this is healthy boundaries. It is practicing healthy non-attachment to the past and future, to people, to things. It is protecting your sovereignty while still contributing to humanity. It’s protecting your resources like time, attention, intellectual property – not with a spirit of lack but a spirit of appreciation for their value. Simple tip: keep a log of what you say yes to that you want to say no to. Being an adult is sometimes saying yes to things you don’t want to do, but if your days are spent saying “yes” to things you don’t want to do, you are a domesticated human.
  5. Practice Self-Care. It takes a blend of confidence and wisdom to discern between self-love and selfishness. To discern between self-awareness and being self conscious. To take care of you without becoming self-absorbed. It’s a fine line, I know. It all comes down to “loving your neighbor as your self”. Treat yourself like a friend that you love. Treat yourself like a client that you love working with. Don’t talk yourself out of self care with negative bullshit like “I feel guilty when I do things for me” or “This feels selfish …” This is the language of a martyr. Simple tip: keep track of what you do that’s just for you. It could be 5 minutes of silence, yoga, going to the gym, reading – whatever feeds your soul. Keep track of these and consciously incorporate them into the flow of your life.

If you adopt these five practices (again, in your own way), the promised results are profound and sustainable. You will grow. And when you grow, everyone around you will benefit. You will enhance your reputation and attract more people – which in turn will create more opportunities. You will feel lighter, more balanced, less frenetic. You will find that coping mechanisms are almost entirely unnecessary. You will be living as your True Self. And your True Self is your brand.

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