For as long as I can remember, I’ve been self-conscious about my prominent Jewish nose. So naturally, I protested when Mark Hanauer, a well-known LA-based photographer, made me turn sideways to shoot my profile. The result is one of the best photos ever taken of me.
Last week, I posted that picture on my Facebook page and asked my friends what they could love about themselves today that they have been seeing as a negative. I received an avalanche of responses. It was very affirming for me—an unexpected and superb gift.
Whether it’s Cindy Crawford’s iconic mole, David Letterman’s gapped teeth, Beyonce’s curvaceous booty, or the fact that Barbara Walters can’t pronounce the letter “R”, having a distinctive “flaw” can be something to celebrate and turn into an important feature of your personal brand.
Branding is all about distinguishing yourself from your competition and the rest of the crowd. I’m not talking about being shocking (only a performance artist like Lady Gaga can pull that off); rather, I’m talking about being unforgettable in an authentic way. That type of presence comes from the inner knowledge that you’re okay just the way you are.
So often we are too apologetic for our shortcomings, when we should be accepting, even celebrating ourselves—warts and all. If you are hard on yourself, others will be hard on you. If you come from a place of strength, your relationships will be strong. The truth is people can only accept you as much as you can accept yourself. Every important relationship in your life is a reflection of how you feel about yourself.
It’s time to stop apologizing for who you are and open up to your authentic self. To do this, start by freeing yourself from the desire to conform. When we accept ourselves, others follow.
To shine a light on what’s positively different about you, take a few minutes to answer these questions:
• Describe what is unique about you—do you look, act or think differently from others?
• Identify one big challenge you've had at work because you are seen as different
• Did anything positive come out of the challenge? What did you learn about yourself?
• How can you turn what's different about you to your advantage?
The key to developing self-acceptance is acknowledging what is in place, what is working, and having gratitude for that. It’s about turning your focus toward what you have instead of harboring a sense of scarcity and always looking at what seems to be wrong with you or what’s missing from your life. When you live with the constant feeling that you don’t have enough or that you are not enough, others will see you that way.
By having gratitude for your true nature, you can overcome any fears that stop you from seeing yourself as an extraordinary person, just as you are. I’m starting with my nose. What will you celebrate about yourself today that has felt like a flaw? It’s time to get comfortable in your own skin—fearlessly knowing that to the degree you accept yourself, the world will accept you as well.
Robin Fisher Roffer is a leading brand strategist and reinvention specialist. Founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing, she is the author of Make A Name For Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs To Create A Personal Brand Strategy For Success and The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You’re The Only One Like You. Learn about her Reinvent Yourself! Workshops here.