Choosing Who You Are

If you want to stand out in your career search, you need to define yourself properly. It may seem illogical, but people can take specific actions to define themselves. Make sure that what you are like on the outside is a deliberate choice on your part. There is no reason at all for anyone to allow what he or she is like on the outside to be left to chance or accident.

Helping yourself to be deliberate specifically involves using a certain amount of psychology. Don’t worry, this is something you can do on your own. You don’t necessarily need prescription drugs or medical specialists. The psychology works best if you ask yourself some difficult questions to test whether what you look like on the outside is deliberate or accidental:

Are you going out in public today with clothing that you deliberately chose with rips and tears in the fabric?

Did you choose to embed that shiny metal ring through your nostrils?

Are you walking out into the world today having made the deliberate choice not to wash your hair?

Did you choose to allow your breath to smell like you ate rotting meat an hour ago?

There is a point to these absurdly ridiculous questions: Every element about your outward appearance comes down to a choice on your part. And, whether you chose it or not, people are going to perceive that you made the choice.

If you are a celebrity who makes a lot of money selling music internationally and you want to embed a shiny metal ring through your nostrils, then why are you reading this blog post? The same is true for any of you who are so wealthy that you don’t give a damn how dirty your hair may look in the direct sunlight.

But, for everyone else, please pay close attention.

Not To Decide Is To Decide

It is ironic, but true, that not to choose is to choose. If you don’t care that you have unwashed hair, that not caring on your part turns out to become a deliberate choice that ensures you will look sloppy and lazy when you go out in public. Did you accidentally not shower this morning? Another difficult question for you.

Whether we like it or not, our outward appearance is going to be perceived by others out in public as though it were a deliberate choice. So we all need to get used to making smart choices and leave nothing to fate or accidents.

Your personal brand is first going to be noticed by the way you look on the outside. But, there is also much more than merely how you look. Every body gives off scents. The particular scents that your body gives off are also part of how you are perceived by others out in the world who are near you. If you have bad breath, few people (even dentists) will want to come near your face. If your armpits or other parts of your body give off a strong odor, few people will want to come near you.

If you go to a job interview without first getting your outward looks in order, you are asking for trouble. This goes way beyond the standard concept of dressing for success in business by choosing to wear appropriate attire at job interviews. The point is that your outward looks cannot completely be taken care of by wearing appropriate attire. You must pay attention to your appearance beyond your choice in attire: Your personal brand will be enhanced if you have clean hair and skin, no metal objects stuck anywhere on your face, and that fresh, minty taste in your mouth.

Within You and Without Out You

These are not just poetic lyrics from George Harrison. The inner you affects the outer you in many ways. This is unavoidable and completely within your own control. Here, too, is a bit of psychology.

Perhaps it may surprise you to learn that what you are on the inside does not necessarily have to be revealed outwardly to anyone. Many people never learn this. Many people grow up raised to put a premium on personal truthfulness at all times. Don’t be one of those people because personal truthfulness is overrated if you want to succeed with the best possible personal brand.

One important reality of the 21st century is that your reality need not be shared in detail with everyone around you. If someone asks you how you are doing, you should resist the temptation to be truthful and genuine, especially if you are not feeling very happy and focused at the moment. Social media and handheld devices have created a world in which you can instantly share what you had for breakfast as if anyone really needs to know that you enjoyed mouth-watering scrambled eggs topped with jalapeño chili peppers and lemon slices. Some things are just best left inside you.

A useful example may make this clearer. If, on the inside, you feel shy and have apprehension about going out in public to interact with strangers, you should learn how to not reveal that about yourself outwardly in public if you want to be a success in this life. The same holds true for anything else that is inside of you and is not overtly visible outwardly to others. Shyness need not be overtly visible outwardly to others. The same holds true for any of your internal characteristics or traits.

Consider, for example, what may happen if you let people know (verbally or using Twitter or Facebook or whatever) that you have color blindness. At the very least, you will have to suffer inane questions from people such as “What color is my dress?” The best answer to that question is, “The color doesn’t matter. That dress makes you look fat.” You get the idea here.

Be Honest: Know Yourself

The trick is to arrive at a very clear picture in your mind about what your own particular internal characteristics or traits are. Only then can you manage your outward appearance.

Here is one real-life example of the interconnected ways in which your internal characteristics will affect your daily life: If you are shy and have apprehension about going out in public, you should find some way to know that about yourself. This is because a person who does not know that they are shy and have apprehension about going out in public is going to suffer from unhappiness and frustration following a succession of unsatisfactory relationships. If you suffer from unhappiness and frustration, you will not be someone that others will want to be around, and you may end up being a very lonely person.

Here is another example from the real world of the interconnected ways in which your internal characteristics will affect your daily life: If you need to be the center of attention in every interpersonal situation, you should find some way to know that about yourself. This is because a self-centered person like you who does not know that they are self-centered is going to suffer from unhappiness and frustration following a succession of unsatisfactory relationships and being dumped often. If you suffer from unhappiness and frustration, you will not be someone that others want to be around, and you may end up being a very lonely person.

The basic reality of life today in the 21st century is this: Those who know themselves well and who are absolutely honest with themselves about their own internal characteristics or traits will have the best opportunities for success in life.

Emotional Intelligence

Those who are out of touch with who they truly are as a person will have a rough time finding acceptance or success or happiness in life. Your performance in job interviews will also be negative affected. How can you hope to develop your own personal brand if what you develop is based on faulty data?

Therefore, a crucial step in developing your own personal brand is to attain what is known as emotional intelligence. This is sometimes called EQ (for emotional quotient), as compared to IQ (for intelligence quotient.) Simply put, emotional intelligence is a smart awareness of your own and other peoples’ passions along with knowledge of how to control passions. Everyone either has sufficient EQ or not. This is an internal trait that is not necessarily visible out in the world.

So, how does one attain sufficient emotional intelligence? The very annoying answer is this: Some people just are born with this capacity while others will need to make considerable effort to develop it. Others do not care whether they demonstrate this capacity.

But, the truth is developing this EQ capacity is something that you can learn. This capacity is not restricted only to psychiatrists or other medical doctors. You can discover ways to learn this capability, too, even if you have no university degrees at all.

One additional and highly annoying truth is that this capability may not necessarily come to you from book learning. So, did you waste your money on a college education? Some people may be able to develop this capacity from learning lessons in life through interpersonal trial and error.

If you are one of those people who do not care whether you demonstrate sufficient EQ, and, you want to develop your own personal brand, stop reading this right now. Just stop. Go watch reality television instead.

At the core of this whole subject of your internal characteristics is the matter of choice and mental attitude. You can make certain, specific choices about how you present yourself outwardly. But, this will only be possible for you if you first achieve the appropriate mental attitude.

As an example, let’s say that you genuinely feel fearful of new situations in public, and, meeting with people you have never met causes you dread. You must learn to become aware of your specific fears about unfamiliar interpersonal situations and strangers. Once you have become aware of your specific fears in this sense, only then will you be able to construct an appropriate mental attitude to address your specific fears.

You can, for instance, develop the appropriate mental attitude that you are going to go out and meet and interact with people who are strangers and survive those interpersonal situations with dignity and strength and even a few laughs. Unless you first develop that specific mental attitude, you are very likely to suffer emotionally under the strains and pressures of those interpersonal situations in which you are required to meet and interact with people who are strangers.

Reprogramming Your Mind

More psychology for you: How you develop that (or any) appropriate mental attitude is to do what I call “reprogramming” your mind. You may not actually be programming or reprogramming your mind at all. But, let’s agree to call it that for the sake of simplicity.

The point is that you must convince yourself in your own brain that you truly believe something is true before you can behave out in the world with any credible authority.

Even a person who may have developed deep fears of meeting and interacting with strangers can create in their own brain the appropriate mental attitude that will enable them to succeed in what otherwise would be impossibly difficult interpersonal situations.

Is this known as “acting”? Oh, yes it is!

One of the most compelling statements about the power of developing an appropriate mental attitude comes from the great American philosopher, Julius Henry Marx (1890 – 1977): “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

He was better known as the comedian named “Groucho” starting in the early 20th century, but he was wise and full of insights for the present day.

I also want to share with you an obscure bit of song lyrics. Alan Price, who was born in England in 1942, wrote and sang a song in a movie called O Lucky Man in which his lyrics align with this same mental attitude concept: “Someone’s got to win in the human race. If it isn’t you, then it has to be me. So, smile while you’re making it, laugh while you’re taking it, even if you’re faking it; nobody’s gonna know.”

If you want a persuasive, yet also highly entertaining, lesson about discovering who you are and then developing ways to succeed in this life, rent O Lucky Man. It is a 1973 British film that will occupy only 183 minutes of your life, but you will never forget how it makes you feel.

Your own success in this life is dependent upon the ways in which you use your mind. You cannot accidentally be successful over the course of your life. You must deliberately choose to use your mind to enable success in your life or you should not be surprised when the outcomes do not make you happy.

The Mental Equivalent

Two crucial elements for you if you want to make wise choices about what you are like on the outside are: First, attain a sufficient emotional intelligence. Then, create a clear and specific mental equivalent of what you want the reality outside your mind to be.

You can express your mental equivalent of what you want the reality outside your mind to be by affirming what’s in your mind repeatedly until “it sinks in,” so to speak. One simple and inexpensive tactic to implement this affirmation strategy is to record your own voice saying particular affirmation statements and then play back your affirmations on a portable audio playback device using headphones.

Affirmations must be in the first person, the present (not future) tense, have an active verb, and state something very specific and clear. Here is an example:

“I am drawing positive energy from meeting and interacting with new people every day.”

The reason why you must use “I” and the present tense is to be able to hear you, yourself, telling your brain that the reality you want is available to you right now.

You should record several affirmations and play them back into your own ears privately every day at least once a day. The total running time for your recording should be under 10 or 15 minutes.

Repeated, consistent playback of affirmations into your own ears privately will help you truly believe what your own voice is telling you is true.

I did this exact thing with affirmations, so I vouch for the validity of using affirmations. After I endured a painful separation and divorce in the 1990s, I used affirmations to “reprogram” my mind to reorient myself to an improved life that would specifically replace the life that I was living at the time.

Not only did I end the sadness and loneliness that I was feeling, I also discovered new directions for my life and earning a living. My use of affirmations played back into my own ears privately some 20 years ago.

Even though that was two decades in the past, I can still feel the power of my own voice telling my brain that the reality I wanted was available to me immediately. This is powerful stuff, so be careful how you choose your affirmations and the wording that you use.

As I have proved to myself, the reality is that using your own mind, you can take charge of your life. You can reorient yourself and your life if you only will choose to do so. You can make changes to how your life goes. You can make changes to what you are like on the outside and choose not to reveal to anyone what you are like on the inside.

All of this adds up to the first step of taking control over what you are like on the outside (your outward appearance versus your inner self) so that you can create or fix your personal brand.

It All Starts in Your Mind

How you use your mind affects everything in your life. How you use your mind also directly impacts many people in your life.

“You cannot be healthy; you cannot be happy; you cannot be prosperous; if you have a bad disposition.”

Emmet Fox (1886-1951)

Your mental and emotional traits are vital to your survival in life. How well you communicate and whether you can be a leader versus a follower also are directly tied to how you use your mind.

I am one of many who believes that how you use your mind can be changed if you make the decision to change how you use your mind. How you use your mind is not a permanent condition that you were born with. You can choose to change how you use your mind at any age no matter where you live in this world.

How you view other people and how you judge other people are two elements of how you choose to use your mind. If you only believe, trust or value people who believe exactly as you do, then you are choosing not to use your mind correctly.

Believing, trusting or valuing only people who believe exactly as you do is a very clear sign that you have chosen not to use you mind very well. One sign that you are a person who chooses to use your mind well is if you really and honestly can “see the world through other people’s eyes” or “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” or other similar phrases in the English language.

The ability to know, understand, and feel what other people know, understand, and feel is an ability that comes to people who choose how to use their minds well. Such people are the one who become leaders compared to the rest who are only followers. You cannot accidentally get that job you’re seeking. You cannot accidentally become a success in leadership. You cannot accidentally communicate effectively over the course of your life. These specific successes are available only to people who choose how to use their minds effectively. You can become one of those people if you want to do so.

Copyright © 2012, Woody Goulart. All Rights Reserved.

See the growing list of posts in the “Stand Out” series here at Ned’s JOTW website.

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