When was the last time you got
face-to-face with the
best version of yourself?
I’ve had thousands of people in my studio over the last 10 years and for most, that meant walking away with a great-looking headshot. But for those willing to engage in a different kind of headwork, something more becomes possible: a deep-dive reunion with the authentic self.
As a photographer, I can tell you that being photogenic is nothing more than a state of being in front of a camera where authenticity outshines insecurity. The best part? It’s achievable by anyone—even if you’ve got a face for radio. See?
However, as long as your focus remains skin deep, you’ve got the same changes of glimpsing the real you in a photograph that you do in the bathroom mirror. There’s not a camera on earth capable of capturing a sense of passion, power, and purpose that isn’t already there. I call it the You Quotient™ and you can read more about it later. For now, let’s just say that where IQ is an external measure of intellectual capacity, YQ is an internal sense of personal authenticity—which brings us to this month’s SYS challenge:
SUM UP YOUR BEST SELF IN #3WORDS
Imagine your life as a book…not just a chronology of dates and events, but a compilation of everything that’s happened from your first memory of childhood to the seconds ticking by as you ready this—triumphs, failures, roads not taken, thoughts unspoken. Everything. Presuming you’re old enough to remember what a World Book Encyclopedia looks like and can imagine how it would feel to have one stacked-up on your lap, think bigger. Much bigger.
Now, pretend you’ve got a magic pen that can freeze time and space so you can pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage and begin going through a lifetime’s worth of words, crossing off the non-essential until you’re left with just three: The three words that must be a part of any meaningful conversation about the exceptional you.
A word of caution before you reach for the thesaurus: Don’t mistake your function for your fire. Authenticity transcends the rational value of what you do by tapping into the emotional truth of who you are. For example, imagine a family physician whose personal brand words are compassionate, thorough, and honest. Even if we give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s all true, do we really get a sense that we’re dealing with an individual, or are we merely ticking off qualities we expect to find in a doctor?
On the other hand, what if she’d used funny, friendly, and fierce? She’d still be wearing the white coat and stethoscope, but now she’s more than just a doctor—she could be YOUR doctor. It’s like when someone in sales says he’s tenacious, or an actor says she’s passionate. Show me a salesperson without tenacity or an actor without passion and I’ll show you someone on a collision course with a career change.
The idea here is to set yourself apart so you can connect with the world the way only you can. But how? Start by making a list of words you and your peers/colleagues/competitors probably have in common…and avoid them. Okay, that’s the maverick in me talking. The truth is, rational brand words can still work—provided their authenticity is so overwhelming people connect with them emotionally. What do I mean? Well, there’s tenacity, and then there’s tenacity. Wil Smith’s character in The Pursuit of Happyness is a shining example (and a great movie, to boot).
Here are three questions that may not only help you find your #3WORDS, but bring other things into focus as well:
What are my powers?
What are my passions?
What is my purpose?
When you think you’ve got your #3WORDS, challenge yourself. Dig deeper…and when you think you’re done, dig some more. Keep going until you hit bedrock. You’ll know it when you get there.
This won’t be easy (and isn’t meant to be). The shortest route between you and your authentic self will always be an uphill climb, a bumpy ride, the road less traveled. But you’re up to the challenge, right?