Category Archive for: ‘Seriousness’

WHY SO SERIOUS?

Back in the days when I was a practicing lawyer in Washington DC, I used to straighten my very curly hair. Every day. I used to get up early, forsake sleep or a work-out, and stand there and sweat it out. Pulling. Tugging my hair. Struggling. Resisting my natural curls.

Why?

I thought that in order to be seen as a competent lawyer, I had to be serious. I assumed curly hair meant I wasn’t serious. Straight hair equaled serious and competent.

One day I woke up and changed careers. What followed was a return to my natural curls. No more waking up early to straighten the curls. My morning options opened up: I could sleep, meditate longer, work out more often.

Does that mean I am not as competent or serious anymore? Not necessarily. I’m definitely competent and you better believe I’m serious about my work as a brand strategist.

I just stopped taking myself so seriously and decided to lighten up. That meant accepting who I was naturally- curly hair and all.   I stopped resisting my natural tendencies and started to “own” them.

You know what happened next? My curly hair became a part of my brand. Used wisely, I was able to balance curls as a complement to my branding strengths and talents. That meant in part that if my hair is curly, I made sure I offset the fun and free nature of the curls with a more smart visual brand (ie, no low cut tops, etc).

My curly hair is now part of my values and signals my creative and fun nature and expertise. No more resistance.

Yet, I regularly hear from so many of my clients that they want to seen as competent so they are working on being more “serious”. What does serious have to do with competence?

Being serious does not sell your brand.

Emotional resonance in brand development is what sells your brand. Emotional resonance is crucial. The only emotion that sells is happiness. So if you are telling me that your serious brand signals happiness somehow, then go for it.

Unfortunately, none of us really intend for our serious brand to be giving off a vibe of happiness. So our brand fails AND you are unhappy and confused, too.

Consider that our need for others to see us as competent is really our desire to be respected by others. It has nothing to do with being serious. Gaining others’ respect means we respect ourselves first. But do we respect ourselves enough first and foremost to own our own strengths (and curly hair)? No one can respect us otherwise- whether we are serious or not.

So what does this mean for you and your business, career, and your business brand, too? Stop and ask yourself:

  • Where in your life and career do you think you need to be more competent? Why?
  • Do you respect yourself to consider yourself competent?
  • How are you trying to achieve this competence by being more serious?
  • Where in your life and career could you show up more happy and sell more happy?
  • What would your own brand and your business/career brand look like if you were more happy and less serious?

First, Know Yourself So You Know What To Market.