What comes first? Is it the chicken or is it the egg?
Recently, I was talking with a photography client about my approach to personal branding and how my intention is always to photograph my clients as they would “BE” in 18 to 24 months, rather than who they are in the present moment. My client was concerned about how to step into and embody an 18-month version of herself when she wasn’t ‘there’ yet in her mindset and presence. She felt like she was an imposter, and that her clients would discover that she wasn’t the confident and bold person she was presenting herself to be in her branding.
Essentially, she was facing the dilemma of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? OR in this case, success or confidence?
There are many examples of this juxtaposition in our lives. Opening up a cookbook you will see a recipe outlining exactly what to do to achieve the beautifully photographed finished meal. Replicating this recipe all comes down to confidence and skill.
Late last year, when we built a professional studio on our property, the builder followed a highly detailed plan and 3-D drawings of the finished building. For years before that, I had visualised every bit of that studio in my mind. The draftswoman created tangible illustrations of my vision that brought it into reality. Imagine if I had instead invited the builder to come to the site with all of his tools and materials, and I started describing to him what the stairs and front door would look like so that he could begin building. Could he have confidently replicated what was in my head, just by me explaining it to him? Maybe? Would I have been able to describe the studio in the order in which he would need to build it from the ground up? I doubt it.
Personal branding and Photography is a lot like building a studio or following a recipe. You need to know what the outcome is that you want to achieve, and you need to have confidence in the steps to move with momentum towards that vision. Sometimes we can get so close to our business and the micro steps that we make day to day, that we cannot envisage the big, bold 18-month vision we are aiming for. Instead, I see business owners creating a personal brand that is grounded only in the here and now. They play it safe. They take much smaller steps that take longer to reach their vision.
Personal Branding needs to develop a 3-D version of your big vision that incorporates both the marketing collaterals with photographs, as well as your psychological readiness with your clarity & mindset to avoid feeling like an imposter. Without these 3-D drawings or a multi-dimensional representation of your big business vision, the ultimate question would be “Where do I start?”.
Where do I start? chicken? or egg?
That is the biggest question that creates the most angst and procrastination in business owners. They ultimately don’t have the steps laid out for them so that they can move confidently and consistently closer to their big vision. Instead, they get caught up in all of the micro-steps.
“What kind of website should I have?”
“What keywords should I use in my SEO?”
“What colour should my logo be?”
To know the answer to the “Where do I start?” question, we need to know where it is that we want to head towards. Brand positioning with clarity, presence and growth mindset is the answer. When you’re on the same page as your 18-month vision, you know where the next steps are for your business. You know which offerings to make next, how to market yourself, how to write an article or how to communicate with your ideal client. You start to borrow confidence in yourself, and in your vision. You embody the energy of your future vision and that changes the types of clients you attract.
When you brand your business as you are in the present moment, momentum slows, and it takes longer to achieve your goals. A futurist brand positioning means that you get to support a growth mindset within yourself, as well as the way that you articulate your worth and value to your clients. You make a significant impact on your presence, how you present yourself to your clients and you have more clarity about the value you offer. When you are focused on present moment branding, your mindset more easily succumbs to doubt and fear, projecting yourself onto others, comparison mode and feeling like you’re not good enough.
What happens is that you end up in this internal tug of war of yearning for a bolder future vision, but struggling in the present moment because you have no roadmap of where to head next. You know that you have great potential. You’re just not positioning yourself in that way at the moment. So, you forever stay in this state of constant comparison and stuckness.
Instead, when you are creating your branding photographs, videos, customised memes, your written content, or your pricing and the packaging of your service, you need to be positioning yourself as you would be in the future.
You need to borrow confidence from yourself and from those around you who support you so that you can position yourself in this way. Ultimately, you want to be able to grow into this future focus brand positioning, because it will help you to get there quicker, with a lot more ease, and a lot more fun and joy. So rather than waiting for confidence to come first before you boldly position yourself – position yourself strongly, challenge yourself to set the bar high, and then work hard to position your presence, your clarity and your mindset to start to match that level of confidence.
It’s kind of like the superhero pose that Amy Cuddy spoke about in her 2012 TEDx Talk.
Even though there has been a variety of further research since 2012 to support and contest these findings, Cuddy suggested that power posing like a superhero can change behaviour and body chemistry. This is a perfect example of the chicken or the egg or the draftswoman with the building plans. Step into that confidence before you even feel it 100%.
So how do we, on a practical level, choose to set the bar high and then start to step into it with our mindset and presence?
- Raise your awareness about your inner third, your core truth of who you are beyond the masks you wear. Gain perspective with help from a mentor to unfold the different parts of you that you can make more transparent. When you tap into your core truth, it becomes easier to step into that authentic space.
- Mindset plays a considerable part in this futurist process. Work on creating a growth mindset. Stop focusing on the micro details. Hold your future vision lightly, even playfully. Be aware of the words you speak quite casually about lack of abundance or not being good enough. Words are powerful. Treat your vision lightly but with intent. Future visions can die with suffocation. You need to give your next vision space to breathe and to be implemented.
- Give thought to what you would be wearing differently in your 18-month vision. Would you have a different kind of haircut or colour? What will your demeanour be like in 18 months? Will you be more sociable? More extroverted? That is precisely how you need to position yourself right now.
- Be selective in the people you choose to surround yourself with and to share your vision for the future. People who are in your present moment in time won’t be able to see what it is that you’re trying to achieve. They have an understanding of who you are right now. They have a set of beliefs, narratives and filters that influence their opinions and their judgements. Find a mentor who can help you with your branding message, who can embrace your future vision.
- Pursue personal development that helps raise your awareness and build your power.
- Each day commit energy, focus, and momentum to that future vision. You must act for real change to begin. Don’t position yourself and your branding in this future vision, and then sit on the couch watching daytime television – waiting for it to manifest. It won’t happen without action.