Ever notice that even though we all start out as an original, many of us end up as copies? Ugh.
It’s easy to pay so much attention to what others are doing that we lose sight of how unique we are. The seemingly perfect people that hang out on Pinterest, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Facebook can make us wish we were someone that we’re not. Before we know it, we begin hiding our unique quirks, our style, and the things that make us tick!
I often work with clients who are creating a brand presence. I guide them in exercises to help them find what makes them unique (I’ve listed them at the end of this blog). I caution them that if they’re not vigilant about keeping their uniqueness within their branding, they’ll end up “sounding’ and “looking” like someone they’re not.
I say this to them citing my own experience. When I began a business 10 years ago I was trained to brand myself and market my products by “copying and pasting” other people’s material onto social media. I did this for months with very little successful feedback from my audience. Each time I put out “copycat” content I felt disingenuous and all-around “icky”. It was only when I consistently began putting out material and social content that was true to me that I began to get positive feedback and engagement.
If you’re an HGTV lover maybe you can relate to this example. One of my favorite shows is “Fixer Upper.” The Gaines can make me smile, laugh, and even roll my eyes at their cute and quirky onscreen conversations. A few years after “Fixer Upper” aired and began gaining notoriety other shows popped up that seemed to copy Chip and Joanna’s style. I didn’t like it. I could tell they were trying too hard to be like the Gaines, and it wasn’t “working” for me. Had they shown me their unique style I may have tuned in to their show, but they didn’t.
Bottom line: it’s easy to spot a phony and people don’t like it!
If you’re working on your brand or just want to watch your personal life grow, trying to be like someone else is counterproductive. Copying others will keep you from strutting your stuff, will limit your creativity, and deny people from seeing the “real” you.
By all means, take bits and pieces of what you like about others and adopt it as your own…a warm smile, genuineness, openness…be inspired by them, but don’t copy them! Being a “cookie cutter” is boring. Be You is not.
Real You…Best You
Your “real” self will always be within you. It won’t ever leave. If it’s hidden it just needs to be uncovered for the world to see. Some examples are:
- being a morning person
- being a night owl
- being a cerebral thinker
- being a creative thinker
- being a loner
- being a “life of the party”
Your gifts and talents and your likes and dislikes all make up the real you.
Your “best” you is a work-in-progress. This is the part of you that could stand to be better. Some examples are:
- better leadership skills
- better organizational skills
- better communication skills
The parts of you that have been refined all make up the best you.
How to Get Back to the Real You
If you find yourself copying others and want to embrace the…perfectly imperfect, one-of-a-kind, messy but-not-messed-up… you, try doing these simple exercises:
- Create a timeline of your life. Grab a piece of paper and turn it horizontally. Draw a line from one end of the paper to the other. Label the left side “birth” and the right side “present”. Begin writing highlights of your life along the line such as: began art classes, joined a soccer team, did improv, started a book club, graduated from college, met my significant other, started my job, had kids, etc. Fill your timeline-there are no “right” or “wrong” highlights!
Use what you wrote as anchors that will pull you back to see what you’ve done in your life that is very different from others. In other words, no timeline will be the same!
2. Site Your Differences. Grab another piece of paper and begin jotting things down that make you come alive.
Your list is evidence of your uniqueness.
3. Grab another piece of paper. Begin writing 5-6 words that “sum up” your life and lifestyle. An easy way to do this is to:
a) look at the last 25-30 pictures on your phone. What do you see?
b) think back over your past week. What did you find yourself doing or thinking about that brought a smile to your face?
- pics of kids…being a parent
Your words will be an indication of what’s important to you right now. If you’re branding yourself for your business these are all “snapshots” you will want to show “the world” to help them get to know the real you.
Friend, go stand in front of your bathroom mirror. The object (you) standing in front of you really is as fabulous as it appears! You’ve been gifted with talents and a personality that is one-of-a-kind. Nurture that spark inside of you. Flaunt your uniqueness. Know how much you matter. The world needs YOU, not a copycat!