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The Dead-End Of Labelling People – Why Struggling To Fit Into A Mold Won’t Get You Very Far

Written by: Maria Papacosta, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Labelling, to put it simply, is describing someone in a word or short phrase. For example, the label “consultant" is usually used to describe someone who provides professional or expert advice in a particular field of science or business to organizations or individuals. By labelling someone as a consultant, most of us immediately think of a person who is strictly professional, possibly of higher social status, well-educated, meticulous and not particularly funny. Similarly, by labelling someone as an “artist” we usually think of a person who is creative, inspiring, interesting, free-spirited, but weak in analytical thinking or understanding how organizations work.

woman holding a barcode

We’ve grown accustomed to putting labels on people in order to describe their work or even who they are as individuals. Labelling has become a tool to ease communication and in many cases our interaction with each other. However, labelling is a description for just one aspect of our lives rather than something intrinsic and multi-dimensional. Human beings are complex beings, gifted with multiple identities, talents, passions and perceptions regarding the world and themselves.

One of the most common concerns I face from my clients when designing their personal brands is exactly that. How to label themselves.

“Should I call myself a consultant or a trusted advisor?”

“Should I mention that I’m an artist or will that ruin my reputation as a thought leader?”

“I play in a rock band, but work as an executive coach, should I hide the rock band from my bio?”

“I’m passionate in Shamanic Constellations, but when I mention this to my clients they seem to stop taking me seriously as an expert in my area of work.”

As you can imagine the list of concerns is endless and it all has to do with how we want to be perceived by others, in a constant struggle to bury our vibrant multifaceted personality and distress our wellbeing.

We live in a world where diversity has finally become a priority. We’re beginning to consolidate that labels are misguiding, let alone offensive. We’ve also started to seek new ways of doing things by bringing to the table different ideas, backgrounds and experiences. Don’t you think it’s about time to reveal to the world your true colors and allow others to benefit from your multiple talents and experiences?

When designing your personal brand, the foundation is to understand that it has nothing to do with designing how others are supposed to perceive you. The priority is in designing your ideal self and then presenting your authentic self to the world.

Designing our ideal self and embracing our aspirations is critical for our motivation and ongoing development. It’s what boosts intentional change.

In the process of designing a better version of ourselves we can’t exclude how we want to be perceived by others – it’s part of our identity. The key here is to not fall into the trap of designing our better self or even reinventing ourselves by solely thinking what others expect from us. Successful transformation only derives when you as an individual know what you expect of yourself. When you know your purpose and are committed to your values, you’ll start embracing and in some cases rejecting the various aspects that constitute who you are.

Struggling to identify yourself as others would like to perceive you won’t get you very far. Instead, allow the world to see the amazing diversity you possess and realize that your varied talents, skills and experiences are what make you unique and invaluable to your clients, community and overall society.

You’ll still need to label yourself to identify your main profession or expertise, for business purposes, but there is no need to hide your passions. You can be a consultant and an artist. You can be a teacher and a dancer. You can be a lawyer and a philosopher. You can be anything you want. Remember that labelling yourself helps communication in the business world, but it’s not who you are.

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Maria Papacosta, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Maria Papacosta is a leading expert on Presence and Inspired Leadership and an acclaimed personal branding strategist. Her practical, high-energy talks and workshops provide tangible results that help people design a better version of themselves and excel in their work and life. Maria is the co-founder of MSC Marketing Bureau. Her branding strategies have helped some of the leading thinkers of our time to spread their messages and make an impact. Maria's mission is to help people create a better version of themselves.



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