4 Thoughts That Are Toxic To Your Personal Brand

by | Personal Branding, Real Talk

I’ve never had much of a green thumb. I think mine is pink. I love flowers and plants and the benefits of having them around. But the whole water, sunlight, trimming and clipping thing? Yeah, not so much. We all know that if you don’t nurture something, anything, it will not function at its best.  A car needs oil. Your body needs nutrients.  And a cupcake needs icing (after all a cupcake without icing is just a round pound cake, which is so not the same).

But what about your thoughts? Have you ever considered the impact your thoughts have on your personal brand?

They affect your decisions

They affect your mood

They affect your relationships

Your thoughts affect your personal brand.

When it comes to the thoughts you carry, are you paying attention to their impact or are they running amuck like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone?

If you’re not careful, you risk letting toxic thoughts take residence in your brain and in return have a negative impact on your personal brand. The next time any of these thoughts pop up, do your best Dikembe Mutombo impression from the GEICO commercial and say,no no no, not today!”

“What If I Mess This Up?”

Taking on something new whether it’s a new career, business, home, or parenthood can be scary business. The constant threat of failure, or you suck at this, always seems to nag at you like toilet paper at the bottom of your shoes—you just can’t seem to shake it off. When you start to doubt yourself, replace the reasons why you may fail with reasons why you won’t. For example, if you think that your new job may be so much work that your manager will doubt why you were hired, think this instead: “I was chosen for a reason. I am starting over in many ways, but I still bring a lot to the table. I got this!”

“It’s All My Fault”

I learned the hard way to not use those words when I got in my first car accident. I ran a stop sign hidden behind overflowing trees in a residential neighborhood and slammed into another car. Thankfully, the only thing hurt was my confidence and a two month old used car (yup, it was totaled). I remember running out the car crying and saying, “It’s all my fault.” That triggered an attempted lawsuit from the unharmed driver and his wife who wasn’t even there, but saw an opportunity to profit from my mistake. Luckily they didn’t have a case, but it was a tough lesson on many levels.

Accountability is an important part of building a strong personal brand. You need it in order to have credibility and learn from your mistakes. But don’t be so quick to take the blame for something that goes wrong. Unfortunately, people who do not have your best interest at heart may take advantage of your self-blame. Making mistakes are a part of life. If you’re wrong, say so. But don’t dwell in it and feel like you have to be the sacrificial lamb all the time. If you make a mistake, focus more on moving forward and making sure it doesn’t happen again.

“They Can’t Do Anything For Me”

Yes, personal branding is about marketing yourself, but there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. You should trust that your experience and ability adds value no matter where you go. But no one wants to deal with a know it all. Having a big ego will instantly crush your likability factor. And trust me, you can’t build a strong brand without being likable. It’s important to be humble enough to know that there are always opportunities for you to grow and improve. In a recent interview, the purple one, (the singer Prince, not Barney), said he is still learning about music from his new band. He’s probably being humble because he’s a freakin’ musical genius, but there’s something about humility that you can’t help but to respect.  Always be open to learning from others. You never know what you may learn.

I’m Not Passionate About Anything”

Not having a passion is a silent brand killer. Passion is about being excited about something that gets you going. It can be learning new technology, working with children, creatively expressing yourself, or motivating others. It may be different for you than it is for someone else, but it must exist. Passion makes you explore, and exploration makes you grow.

Think about learning to ride a bike and the sheer exhilaration of balancing on your own with only two wheels for the first time (right before you crash into the trash can and scrape your knees, but that’s okay—you did it!) When you follow your passion, there are many lessons that will come from the path. It makes you stronger and determined to get it right. If protein is the building block of a strong body, then passion is the building block of a strong brand. Without it, you’re not much different than the next person. Don’t just stop at saying you don’t know what you’re passionate about. Explore and find out.


Marietta Gentles Crawford
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Marietta Gentles Crawford

Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and author of "From Nine to Thrive: A Guide to Building Your Personal Brand and Elevating Your Career." With over 15 years' experience climbing through top corporate brands, she helps small businesses and freelancers communicate their brand message and stand out from the crowd.

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