In this two-part post, I want to share with you some of the most powerful ways of ensuring professional and personal success. If you want to inspire yourself or your team to get stronger results, if you are aiming for a promotion or even just some well-deserved recognition, these strategies are going to be really crucial in helping you reach your vision.
Today, we take a closer look at building your own supercharged identity, and why it’s so important to identify your own character traits and beliefs before doing anything else, especially for success in the ever-changing corporate environment. In part two, we’ll examine how you can harness the power of your identity to help you achieve your goals and undertake even the most momentous tasks!
Success, they say, is in the detail. Some of us revel in the finer details of a project or a conversation, whereas others are far more excited by the bigger picture. But whichever way you are wired, if you are under excess pressure, under threat or you are not feeling yourself, your attention to detail quickly diminishes, your motivation & productivity spiral downward and you are far less likely to succeed in the task at hand. When we are unable to deal with pressure & we are unfamiliar with our own identity, we are damaging our emotional state; our decision-making ability becomes random & reactive, as if the decisions are being made by someone else – which carries some truth to a certain extent.
To put this into context in the corporate world, let’s look at something which happens on a fairly regular basis in the average company. How many times have you been in a meeting where someone voiced an opinion or idea that was quickly brushed off, joked about, or just ignored, by a manager or the person leading the meeting? Once you’ve seen what happened to your colleague, is it likely that you’re going to want to contribute in the next meeting? What opinion do you form about the manager who reacted so quickly & shot them down? How many times have you heard ‘It’s just not how we do things around here’ but with little explanation around why?
For a company to succeed, it needs to build a culture in which people are safe to be themselves, where they feel safe voicing their opinions and ideas. The brain is always on the look out for any threat, real or perceived, which it may have to quickly act upon. When we are in an environment where we don’t feel safe, our brain is constantly ready to go into fight or flight mode, and just like having your phone constantly downloading something, this constant & demanding use of our brains resources leaves less ‘battery’ for good focus, motivation and attention to detail. When we feel threatened, the brain goes in to a reactive survival mode, limiting the use of the area required for good decision-making, logic & reasoning.
We can take the example of the meeting one step further, and look at what is happening to each individual in that room. If they feel they are next in the firing line, or if they feel it’s unsafe to offer their own ideas, then they may perceive that opinions & therefore their whole identity is under threat. They are unlikely to grow from, or contribute to, anything else happening in that meeting or possibly for the rest of the day. They will be stuck in survival mode, probably fearful of being asked their own opinion, and after the meeting will seek out their like-minded colleagues to debrief each other on how much they dislike their manager/the company/their job…
Here we can see how quickly a business can build a culture of fear and negativity, just by not allowing or encouraging people to express their own identity, or by not allowing them to safely contribute.
This is where identity really comes into play. If we know who we are, and what we stand for or believe in, we can stay strong even when challenged or in a situation were we feel ‘unsafe’. Our identity acts like an anchor, stopping us from drifting or being blown too far off course. Someone with a strong sense of who they are and what they believe in would be less likely to feel threatened in the meeting we mentioned earlier. They would be less likely to perceive a personal attack, and less likely to lose the ability or motivation to contribute and act. This, as you can see, would quickly elevate them into a position of natural leadership, as they appear more resilient and level-headed than the others.
Your identity is like your personal brand. It encompasses what you stand for, what you believe, how you act. A person with a strong identity is like a well-known brand – you always know what you’re going to get; they are consistent, genuine, and you are certain how you feel about them. And, like well-known brands, these people are most likely to be popular, and to be ‘chosen’, because other people can rely on them to act in a certain way.
Building Your Identity
So how do we form a strong personal identity? How do we build our personal brand so that we can anchor ourselves when challenged? There are certain ‘stamps’ in our passport to success that we need to get before we can move on to working towards our goals:
Firstly – Nurture your brain and body
Regardless of all the effort you are about put in to identifying your character traits, if your brain and body are lacking nutrients and fitness, you are simply unable to perform at your best and you won’t feel great about yourself. Not a good place to start analysing your character traits! Get the foundation right by ensuring you stay hydrated, eat regular, nourishing meals, and include a consistent exercise regime into your week or day.
Identify your character traits
How were you acting the last time you did something great? What character traits were you expressing when you successfully overcame a previous challenge? What was missing or forgotten on a day where things got the better of you? What are your values & how would you like to be seen? Often we fill our time with so much ‘stuff’ in life, that we never get around to identifying our personal ‘recipes’ for successful outcomes. You don’t have to define all of your traits at once, but self-awareness should become an on going process because reflecting on and contemplating your own wins, losses and performance is crucial for refining and growing strong character traits, and for personal growth.
Practice acting authentically
An authentic identity, portrayed via consistent behaviours and positive attitudes, creates certainty for all those around you. As you practice expressing your natural character traits, monitor what works and how it is received.
Your attitude shapes your personal brand, and the feedback you receive from others (i.e. when displaying good character traits via your attitude) is what will help you grow. You will also help the culture grow: attitudes spread and create atmosphere, and the atmosphere of a team or an office is what creates the culture!
Define yourself; don’t let others do it for you
By understanding your true character traits and practising authenticity, you will naturally strengthen your own brand and as a result, you will be less concerned with the negative opinions of others. It’s important to be a good listener to others, however when you are clear about your own identity you have a strength that allows you to remain composed and in control of your actions when the conversation might have otherwise been challenging.
Like Steel & Diamonds
Benjamin Franklin said; “There are three things that are really hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” Building your own identity is certainly not easy. But the fulfilment and growth along the journey is so rewarding, and can create such momentum that a vision that once seemed impossible to reach is now firmly in your sights – or even already surpassed. Take the opportunity to assess your own identity this week, so that you are ready to enjoy my next post: how to use your identity for great success in creating visions, inspiring others and achieving goals.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
For those of you really interested in this topic, I cover it in one of my most popular corporate presentations ‘The 5 Keys of Performance’