Personal Branding: Toot Your Horn

Toot your horn, or no one else will. While to some this may seem highly self-serving or perhaps even egotistical if one were to sing praises of oneself or one’s attributes, hardly anyone bats an eyelid when businesses do it. Advertisements of products such as food, fast-food, fizzy drinks, sports apparel and all forms of gadgets are plastered all over billboards at street corners, bus-stops, buses, and now on social media and we wouldn’t dream of spending money on something that had never been advertised. Yet, when it comes to selling ourselves or advertising ourselves, suddenly there is a mental-block. There’s the voice in our head that says, “No, you shouldn't speak highly of yourself. Be humble.”

How did this voice come to be? How did it find its way into our mind, find a comfortable spot and parked itself there?

Erik Erikson (a psychologist) argued that the psychosocial environment especially the first 6 years of our lives is when the seeds of beliefs are planted in our minds – and in the words of James Allen (author of As a Man Thinketh), “Good seeds bear good fruits, bad seeds bear bad fruits.” For all the positive affirmations (good seeds) you received, every “good boy or good girl” you heard, every smile or nod of approval you got as a child, you encoded the message as “I am good as I have the approval of the outside world” and you developed confidence and felt empowered (good fruits).

Conversely, every time you heard a reprimand, “don't do that, don’t say that, that’s wrong” without a proper explanation (bad seeds), you developed doubt and lack of confidence (bad fruits). Over time, through our different environments in the early years - the playground, the kindergarten, the primary school - we begin to learn that we shouldn’t be friends with the kids who are “show-offs” – kids who have nice clothes/shoes/toys or kids who know all the answers to the questions the teacher asks. Now, which 5 to 7-year old wants to be friendless? And so, this conversation plays on auto-repeat in our head – “I cannot be a show-off; being a show-off is bad.”

Now fast-forward 25/35/45 years. You’re at the workplace. You’re either in a job that you don’t enjoy or perhaps you feel like you’re stagnating and want a change and it’s been 5 long years and nothing seems to be working out. You’ve sent out countless resumes, you’ve attended interview after interview (if you were lucky enough to get a reply), but to no avail. Perhaps there have been opportunities to discuss a change of work scope or the promotion, but you held back because you felt awkward telling management why you are the right person on the job. A voice in your head (perhaps that 6-year old you), is whispering, "How can you sing your own praises? No one like a show off." And so the vicious cycle repeats.

Building on the last blog, take 15 minutes today and answer these questions:

1. What are THREE limiting beliefs I have about promoting my strengths and worth?

2. What are THREE empowering beliefs that I would like to develop?

3. What are the THREE worst things that can happen if I start discussing my strengths and worth?

4. What are the THREE best things that can happen if I start discussing my strengths and worth?

Remember, you are your BEST ADVOCATE! If you don't toot your horn, nobody else would. I leave you with this thought – If you don't believe in yourself enough to sing your own praises and give yourself the due credit, why would anyone else do it for you?