Yesterday, I climbed to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The first gallery, The Whispering Gallery, is 257 steps up from the Cathedral Floor. Another 119 above the Whispering Gallery, on the outside of the dome, is the Stone Gallery. And finally, another 152 steps above that is the Golden Gallery, and the very top of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The view of London from atop the Golden Gallery was spectacular. I’d love to tell you that I lost track of time as I lingered there and took in all 360 degrees of the breathtaking view. I did not. The truth is when I stepped out on the very narrow walkway outside, I snapped just a few pictures and then made my way around the circle to the exit rather quickly. I was probably on top and outside less than 3 minutes.
You see, I have this “thing” about heights.
Ok, I’m kind of afraid of them. As I was climbing those last 152 steps to the top on the open wrought iron staircase, I wanted several times to turn around and go back down. I could have retreated, but I forced myself to continue because I wanted to confirm to myself that I could do it.
The climb to the top was entirely for me. I enjoyed the process of climbing much more than the achievement of being at the top. A very important part of my self-concept is the belief that I can learn to do anything I put my mind to. That includes putting my mind to doing some things I don’t necessarily think I need to do or would normally not want to do.
There have been too many times in my life that I refused to confront my fears, and I allowed my fears to alter and even constrain my behavior. The purpose of my climb to the top of St. Paul’s, to confront my fear of heights, was to remind myself that I can accomplish darn near anything I put my mind to. We learn by doing, so confronting your fears is the only way to learn how to do it effectively.
That’s very important for your personal brand. There are going to be some things about personal branding that you don’t want to do or that will cause you considerable anxiety (e.g. blogging). I teach personal branding to university students and working adults and I hear uncertainty, anxiety, and even fear expressed in every single class I teach. But there is nothing in personal branding that you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it.
For most of us, successful personal branding is going to be about learning to confront a few fears. Don’t allow fear to define or constrain your value, what you can do uniquely well to help others address opportunities or solve problems that matter to them. Be encouraged so that you can encourage, rather than discourage, others.
Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.