07 Jun

Sex and the City Divas: Developing and owning a sense of self

Being single myself up until five years ago – and working in
the fashion industry for Macy’s – I used to love watching the TV series Sex and
the City. So I recently dragged my husband to the new release of Sex and the
City 2. Watching how each of the four women dressed, developing her own
personal style throughout all the years of the TV show, I noticed how
comfortable each of them had become in her own skin. Isn’t that the struggle
that all of us women leaders face? First we become confused, wondering how our
life might be different, and then we begin to accept ourselves and feel at
ease.


Sex_in_the_city Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Emerging, Evolving,
Invincible Women

In the very beginning of the TV series these women were all single.
Over the years, their personal and professional journeys took different paths,
which also impacted their style and grace.  Each of the four experienced personal and
professional challenges, and while they enjoyed taking a rear-view look into
their past– they also knew that life was unfolding new adventures that would
see them emerge as even stronger leaders.

In one of the movie scenes all four of them are singing the
song by Helen Reddy “I am Woman” in a karaoke bar. Carrie, the main character,
has come to realize that her career is changing and evolving and that she has
to accept the failure her new book launch. She’s strong and invincible, as the
song says, and doesn’t let that disappointment define her. She understands that
she must revamp her business column and her books and speak from a different
point of view. We are all just like Carrie and the girls. We are women and hear
us roar that we are strong, invincible, and constantly evolving and reinventing
ourselves.  

Every client I have has changed so much over the years. But
some of us choose to accept life’s challenges differently than others.  Here are a few tips to help you sing and unleash
your authentic personal brand to exponentially experience greater growth and celebrate
the savvy, intelligent, bright, stylish leader you have become. 

Our Career Journeys –
As strong women we are all on a career journey, and we know that some parts
of the journey are wonderful while there are also periods of disappointment. We
have been promoted. We’ve been downsized. As my old boss once told me, you
often have to “bloom where you are planted.” All of it is part of the career
road map that led us to where we are today. Mistakes and setbacks are the
tuition paid along the way for career experience, and they can teach us many
things.

In the movie, Carrie’s latest book is condemned as a failure
in a magazine review and she is crushed by disappointment. Haven’t we all been
crushed by a career derailment? I know that like Carrie, I have. I’ve also had
to get back up, dust myself off, and get back in the game.  All successful women at the top of their
organizations can tell you the risks – and the mistakes and failures that they
made. But they overcame these obstacles and through a great deal of persistence
and a positive attitude they rose to the top. The journey isn’t always easy and
in fact it is sometimes just downright hard and unfair. But here are a few ideas
I would ask you to think about in terms of discovering how you have emerged and
evolved into the effective leader you are.   

Our Unique Personal
Journeys
– We all have our own different personal journeys, too. We follow many
winding paths that mold and shape our lives. Some of you, like me, may have
been single for many years and then got married later in life. Or you may have
married very young and had a large, beautiful family. Others of you may be in
the midst of getting a divorce, caring for your elderly parents, or fighting
with some personal health issues.  No two
of us have experienced the same personal or career journey. That’s what makes
us unique. Our personal journeys inform our passions, values, relationships,
hobbies, and how we love to spend our free time.

Not Seeing the Forest
for the Trees
– In the movie, Carrie thinks her two year marriage is boring
because it lost the sparkle she experienced when she was dating and going out
all the time. She realizes that the only man she has ever loved prefers to stay
home and spend time with her. Like this wake-up call for Carrie, each of us
needs to acknowledge and recognize all the beautiful friends, partners, and
family members that support us. It’s okay to be yourself and accept life’s
path. We have all made a few mistakes in life or maybe wished that we had taken
a different route – but we didn’t. Let go of the past and celebrate what it has
created – you as the woman you are today. 
When you accept who you have become and authentically express yourself
clearly to others, people feel a greater sense of connection with you.  That’s the whole idea of effective branding,
because we all like to do business with those we know, like, and trust. 

Accept the Evolution
of Your Style
– So many women don’t want to accept the person they have
become. Now that doesn’t’ mean that we all don’t have traits or challenges that
we need to work on and change or improve. But through our journeys we have
become the strong business women we are today! As we have grown along our
personal and professional paths we developed our style personality. In the
movie, Carrie’s style changed. When she was younger and single she wore more
dramatic, revealing, tight clothing. But when she married her lifestyle changed
and so did her image and style. We see her in this movie with her authentic
“Carrie style” which is still all about high fashion – but as an older woman her
style is a bit more refined, sophisticated, and less revealing. She’s married
and older, but is still authentic about who she is. She still embraces and
celebrates her own individual style.  

Look Age Appropriate
but Stylish
– Carrie no longer needs to wear revealing clothes. She
understands that as we age we can still have authentic style – but it needs to
evolve and be age appropriate. I know my personal style has changed through the
years and I bet yours has evolved as well. That’s only normal and you should be
shifting out of what you liked and wore in your earlier years.  We don’t feel as authentic when we try to
dress like we did decades ago when our careers were first starting. It’s okay
to have a personal style that really represents you. I’ve seen many women
leaders emerge – well into their 70s and 80s – with a great sense of style that
really defines their image. But they always look their age – only a more modern
version of it.   

Know Thy Attributes
– As women we need to accept and leverage our strengths even more so than our
male colleagues.  It’s always amazing to
me how when I meet clients I can intuitively and immediately see their
strengths and gifts. I describe it as one’s effervescence – similar to placing
an Alka Seltzer tablet into a glass of water and watching bubbles begin to
emerge. It’s the same way when people meet you – there is something that you
are passionate about that bubbles to the surface. People immediately notice it
coming out of every part of you. Once you understand that attribute it becomes
a secret branding weapon you can use to leverage your career.

I always tell my clients to take some time for
introspection. Think about your personal and professional journey and
positively pull all the great events of your life and use them to narrate a
branding biography. Know that your journey and personal growth are valuable
elements to help you describe your personal brand and style. Stay the course
and remember that great brands continue to evolve and reinvent themselves –
just as great people do.

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Sarah Hathorn is a professional image
consultant, certified personal brand strategist, speaker, and author.

Her company, Illustra Image Consulting, works
with high-achieving future leaders and large businesses by enhancing their
corporate and personal brand image to take their businesses and careers to the
next level.

Blog, Ezine & Website:
www.illustraimageconsulting.com

Copyright 2010, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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