The Struggles with Being “You” in Your Business
“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” – Steve Maraboli.
Easy enough, right?
A while back I wrote about how to be more “you” in your business. Now that you’ve found a way, I imagine you might be finding an element of struggle with it. Being yourself in your business is not an easy task. There are roadblocks you are going to come up on and unpleasant discussions will creep up fast. Despite any bad there may be in being yourself, nothing can trump the feeling that comes with knowing who you are, knowing you are being genuine, honest and authentic in your business. There are four struggles I see with being “you’ in your business –
Struggle #1 – Will I be taken seriously?
This is something all business professionals deal with. Depending on the industry you work it, if you’re too rigid, then you’re a <expletive>. If you’re too fun or out-going, you’re seen as a flake. What you need to do is look at who you are. Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not – you will only end up miserable. Do keep in mind your workplace – you want to be taken seriously, so you still need to conduct yourself in a professional manner, but you can do that and still be yourself by –
- Being honest – don’t EVER lie.
- Have fun, but still be serious and get the work done.
- Respect those in authority positions. Don’t treat your boss like he’s your drinking buddy (even if he/she is after hours).
Struggle #2 – Will it be seen as “bad marketing” and hurt my brand?
There are some individual brands (think: celebrities) that attempt to “be themselves” to the point you can see right through the publicity stunt. Being yourself will only attract the ones you want to work with and deter the ones you don’t want. If you are genuine, people will see that and work with you because of it. Rarely is being yourself seen as “bad marketing.”
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard M. Baruch
To keep being yourself and not have it backfire or hurt you, keep these things in mind –
- Be tactful.
- Be conscious of who you are and what you represent. Don’t ever waver from your core beliefs.
- Watch your language. You can still be yourself without using cliches and foul language.
My friend Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media wrote a great post about when being yourself could be seen as “bad marketing.” I suggest you check it out.
Struggle #3 – Will people find me offensive?
This is something I struggle with personally. There are things I want to say or discuss publicly, but I won’t because I know I’ll offend people. Petty, yes, but you do not want to alienate your community. You can still be yourself and interject your thoughts and beliefs without offending people.
A typical cop-out is when someone says “I don’t mean to offend, but…” Almost always an offensive sentence follows. Don’t post that. Ever. I’ll be honest – when you are yourself, you will offend someone. It’s going to happen, but how you react says a lot about you as well. Don’t apologize for standing up for your beliefs (whether it’s political, religious, parenting-related, etc.), just recognize that sometimes people just have to agree to disagree. I’m not going to touch on offending someone by posting slurs and other slanderous statements. There simply is no place for that online or really, anywhere.
“Never complain, never explain. Resist the temptation to defend yourself or make excuses.” – Brian Tracy
Struggle #4 – How do I keep from crossing the line of “too much”?
We’ve all seen the celebrities and athletes who share pictures that probably shouldn’t be shared, in the name of personal branding. Being online, there’s a temptation to reveal all. You shouldn’t, not because of bad business, but because of personal safety. It’s risky putting yourself out there – however rely on your instincts when it comes to being yourself. You’ll know what feels right and what doesn’t.
To keep from crossing the line, do the following –
- Ask yourself if the post helps to further your business.
- Ask yourself if your grandma would be okay with it.
- Sense what your gut is telling you – are you leery about posting it? If you feel the slightest off about it, don’t post it.
It’s tricky to be yourself in your business. I see it as walking a tightrope – you have to be open, yet guarded. Open-minded but not abandoning your beliefs. I think I’m doing a fairly good job at it, how about you? What do you struggle with in being yourself in your business?
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