Today’s post is on the power of vulnerability in personal branding. From experience, we sense fear when some leaders/ entrepreneurs/ students/ politicians want their personas to be perceived as perfect…and then they screw up.
It is then too easy to influence their next course of actions. Influential people who go for perfection fear being judged. And they also fear that their weaknesses might eventually be used against them.
Yet, what if your weaknesses can be used to make your personal brand stronger?
So let’s introduce two concepts here: Fragility, and Antifragility.
Nassim Taleb defines these terms as such:
- Fragility: The state of being vulnerable or easily broken.
- Antifragility: Antifragility goes beyond robustness; it means that something does not merely withstand a shock but actually improves because of it.
We know that most great brands ideally include aspirational features. Personal branding however, relates to human beings. This is where imperfections come in as the power of vulnerability.
Human beings change, products don’t. You can have close to perfect control over the branding of products and goods–but not over human beings, including yourself.
And all human beings make mistakes from time to time.
Therefore, if we were to compare a leader/ executive who wants to keep a “perfect” image VS a leader/ executive who is says “so what?” whenever he makes a mistake–which person will seem more human? Which leader will be more likely to establish a strong emotional connection with his/her followers?
The leader who wishes to keep a perfect image will most likely be pushing blame to his/her subordinates in order to keep the perfect image of say…a Semi-Godly person, which is a lie.
This implies that any leader who goes for a blemish-free image will inevitably be easily manipulated. The standards of perfection are after all dictated by someone else.
The leader who says “so what?” to an embarrassing mistake however, can complement his perfect/ beautiful/ charismatic visuals to being human. So this leader can own everything good and bad about his leadership.
After saying “So what?” he can work at fixing the issues.
So don’t go for a “perfect” personal brand. Go for a humane one which allows you to admit and own your mistakes instead. Start by saying, “I’d made this mistake, but so what?”
Saying “So what?” is how your followers don’t feel cheated whenever they see the discrepancy between the perfect image and you in real life. This is the power of vulnerability in personal branding.
And perhaps, authenticity will almost always lead to an antifragile persona. You cannot fight against something that is antifragile–all stress and chaos make the system stronger.