The buzzword today is “image.” Brands and individuals alike need to thrive in a world where our footprints are no longer confined to where we physically step. It’s a vast and highly accessible world, a world where your PIE (performance, image, and exposure) sets you apart and gives an initial definition of who you are. What goes into the image slice?
Your presentation has a profound impact on every facet of your life, from your career to personal relationships. Image is everything, and everything composes your image. Learn more in my newest blog – LINK IN BIO (under blog)
Too many people miss that last part – everything composes your image! It’s how you portray yourself and who you are underneath that portrayal. It’s both the clothes you wear and the personality traits that led you to those choices. It’s both your words and the gestures, actions, and mindset behind those words. It’s both your destination (goals) and your roadmap (actions) to get there.
Most people understand that their image is how others perceive them, but not everyone understands that the perception can only be manipulated to a certain degree before incongruence becomes obvious. In other words, there’s no photoshop when it comes to your image. If it’s not authentic in that the recipe on the surface matches the ingredients underneath, then onlookers will immediately have a terrible taste concerning your image.
So, the very first thing you should know about your image is that it’s not something to be created, fabricated, or replicated. Instead, your image should be viewed as a personalized puzzle sitting inside a box. Each piece fits together for a one-of-a-kind picture, and it’s your job to facilitate that picture coming together. How?
Essential Ingredients For An Authentic Image
This is how you think about and perceive yourself, which is your self-image, and it’s also how you feel about and treat yourself. Secondly, it’s about how you perceive/receive the perceptions of others. Lastly, it’s how you view the person you’d like to see yourself become. Note that this isn’t about being more like some celebrity or other idol. It’s 100% about reaching to achieve the highest, most authentic version of yourself. That takes honesty.
Why is self-concept so important? You can’t expect others to believe your image if you don’t first believe in it for yourself, feel that you deserve it, give yourself the tools to achieve it, and leave room to evolve it.
How you look – accessories, clothes, makeup, hairstyle, grooming, facial expressions, gestures, etc. This is what people gather by looking at you, and it’s just as much about your non-verbals and appropriateness of choices as the aesthetics.
In other words, you can walk into a meeting with a $1,000 purse atop your designer jacket, but what is your image conveying if you’re frowning and sweating because you’re too hot and fidgeting with your bulky purse under the table.
Do keep in mind that habits go into image perception, too. Take that designer jacket again. It may fit perfectly and make you feel empowered, but what if it’s stained, wrinkled, or smells bad? Any asset can become negative if your habits make it a reflection of poor personal traits.
• Body Language
This is one of those non-verbals mentioned above. You must feel calm, friendly, able, willing, and ready so that your movements, mannerism, stance, facial expression, and everything else your body is using as a signal will demonstrate congruency of mind, body, and appearance.
If your character is strong, then your body language will follow suit. Of course, nerves aren’t something everyone can power through without practice. The power of repetition will serve you well. Get in the mirror and sell yourself to yourself. Make you believe in yourself, and watch your body language grow in confidence to match.
How you conduct yourself directly reflects your overall image and personal brand. These are your ethics and morals, and they should be unshakable in the face of adversity. Invest in yourself to have the knowledge, skills, and insight to act on opportunities and avoid pitfalls. Work to improve your interpersonal skills so that you’ll know how others think and behave and can respond accordingly to any situation. Define your core values. Take guidance from mentors. Network. Be part of something bigger than yourself.
Your speech matches the internal confidence and the external presentation. You must be able to articulate your thoughts, effectively listen to the ideas of others, and respond constructively. Be engaged and optimistic, but always remain honest. Know your assets and liabilities, and don’t be afraid to embrace all that makes you great.
Of course, self-communication is equally essential. Know your style. Know your comfort levels. Be honest about your physical and mental characteristics so that you can highlight your best features and leave fewer desirables in the background.
Are You Ready For Your Authentic Image?
In closing, your brand, image isn’t about creating a new you from scratch. It centers around truly knowing your ingredients and what you want to use them to achieve. In doing so, you’re able to meld and refine your unique qualities and choices into unique assets. Just like that… you have an authentic, powerful, and appropriate image.