All my life I have enjoyed contrasts and variety.
When I first studied fashion design, I would be at college, having modelling jobs in between classes. On the weekends I would work at Cooma Chicken serving chico rolls and grilled chickens as well as detailing the odd car!
Later, when we lived in London, I would sip tea at Hampton Palace with the Governess (who was a friend), be presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and take the tube home. The next day I was in Brixton working on programs supporting women who had never even held a pencil to enter the workplace, all the while juggling lifts, homework, meals, and reading to the kids. And one day, when trying to compact my rubbish in the front yard, I fell over and my dressing gown fell open, exposing everything to the passing number 75 bus going down Dover House Road!
And now, working with people on trauma, life crisis, and heartache, to again modelling, to being an academic teaching Mindful Leadership, to being a business woman, all the while juggling garden, home, meals, relationships – the whole kit and caboodle we call life.
It makes for a messy brand! And it has made me really question the idea of brand. I know that in many ways having a brand is a great idea, but is it also be problematic? The market needs to know what we stand for. But could brand at times cause Imposter Syndrome – to feel shame about the ordinary?
I was listening to a podcast by a young entrepreneur sharing how much she had denied her maternal experiences including a miscarriage. She felt it was something she should just deal with and that it in no way belonged in the boardroom. Why not? What does it do to the workplace when we deny parts of us and what might it do if we are more open, warts and all? When we acknowledge that we are humans who all go to the toilet, who misbehave, who love and cry and, at times, feel totally confused about it all?
During our time in London, we met a high profile, glamorous couple. One evening during a meal with just the four or us, they shared that they loved checking out dumpsters at night, finding bits and pieces, and then restoring what they found. This little quirkiness endeared them to me further. There was something more interesting behind the refined exterior.
I have at times felt that being associated with mindfulness – it being part of my brand – has been a pressure in a certain way. This was until I realised that the more transparent I could be, the more useful I could be. This is in not about perfection; it is about sharing how I travel – what I find useful, as well as how I have failed.
Transparency presents a way out of the pressure felt around being perfect, having it all together. It is hard to allow ourselves to be, and to be curious about our experience when we are trying to hide our experience or are worrying about damage control.
Perhaps working more from home is going to crack some of our ‘branding’. And I think in many ways it is liberating to allow the humanness to peek through. It is, after all, what we all yearn for.