What I learned when I decided to break the rules
When you make the decision to stop doing things that might be deemed ‘professional’ but don’t quite sit right with you, magical things can happen.
If you were to pop over to my website right now you would find something unusual. To some, maybe even shocking.
I don’t use capitals. Ever.
I know … the horror!
I started blogging about business over five years ago. At the time I was building a photography and design business and learning about business was my full time job. I decided to start a blog as a place to write about my journey and share what I was learning about business. I’m a born teacher, so I really can’t help myself … learning is teaching and teaching is learning!
When I started blogging I tried to be professional and proper and follow all the “rules”. I used capitals and agonised over grammar and felt like I shouldn’t swear. But there was one big problem …
My writing did not feel like me.
"You see, something really surprising happened when I gave myself permission to be me… it gave other people permission to do the same."
In my online “home” I did not feel like me.
At the time the only person reading my blog was my mom so it was easy to decide to be a ‘badass’ and break the rules. I decided it wouldn’t matter if I just did it my way – after all I was only writing for me.
So I gave myself permission to be me.
To write like I talk. To swear if I feel like it. To use far too many sentence fragments and ellipses … and especially, to drop the capitalisation.
In my “real life” I never use caps (in my brain I think in all lowercase). So on my blog, that’s how I would write as well.
And what a relief it was! The blocks I had about writing lifted, the content flowed. My blog grew and soon became my full-time business. I went on to write many ebooks and workbooks; to create online courses and workshops. None of them have caps!
Was there backlash?
You bet there was! Like any blogger or online business builder, I get criticism. Frequently. For some reason people feel the need to tell you when they don’t like you (or what you are doing or saying or writing). I get occasional emails from people telling me that I’m unprofessional and even annoying.
But I am ok with it.
Because for every one critical comment I receive there are dozens of comments about how readers feel like they are in the exact right place for them.
You see, something really surprising happened when I gave myself permission to be me … when I stopped hiding a part of me and stopped trying to change myself to fit in or be “professional”.
It gave other people permission to do the same.
A huge part of my message is that you have got to be YOU: you are the most unique part of your business, and the business is a reflection of you. If you aren’t you in your personal branding, how can you expect to feel authentic and create genuine connection in your business? How can you feel aligned to the work you do and the business you have created?
My lack of caps started out as me just being me, but it has actually grown to be a very powerful component of my personal branding. It helps me find my “right people”. It helps me send my message. And it helps build brand recognition too!
(I’ve had people identify written and visual content that has not been properly credited as mine, all because of the lack of caps and of course my vibe that exists in everything I create.)
So now here’s my question to you:
Is there something you’re doing right now that doesn’t feel like you? Is there a part of you that you are hiding away or trying to change in order to be professional or fit into the expectations of others? Is there something about you that is weird or unusual or just bursting to be released?
Maybe it’s time to give yourself permission to be you.
I’ve learnt that when you share your weirdness, when you give yourself permission to break the rules, when you let yourself be a ‘badass’ in some way … really awesome things happen.
Weird is good. The stuff that makes you different is also the stuff that makes you memorable, authentic, aligned, and able to connect deeply with others.
When you are different, you can make a difference.
(PS: As you can see I use caps when I write for others. It’s sort of like when you visit someone’s home and take your shoes off because that’s just what they do. I don’t HAVE to be a badass rule-breaker ALL of the time, but when I do, I love it! Weird is good.)
Do you do anything in your business that people can immediately identify as uniquely you? I’d love to hear about your personal branding below.