The Origins Of A Strong Identity And How To Recreate Yourself in 7 Phases
I want you to imagine two different bars.
The first bar is a random mainstream bar with no clear theme. The music you hear is a stream of disconnected songs playing the one after the other. Its catalog was made without any care and clear purpose. The people inside have no sense of style, they look bored and there is a dull energy dominating the place. There is nothing in that bar that can help you identify yourself with it.
The second bar is a lounge bar with wooden floors, leather couches a state of the art bar with well-groomed bartenders, and paintings of famous artists decorating the walls. The music is jazz and groovy and the lights are carefully arranged to help the bar emanate a sense of mystique. When you enter the bar you feel captivated. The bar feels warm and inviting. You can’t help but surrender to its authenticity.
Those two bars can be found in different places around the world, but the feelings we experience when we visit them never really changes.
That’s exactly the feeling you get when you meet people with non-authentic and authentic identities respectively.
When you lack identity, people lose interest. They don’t really feel a reason to stay around you and sometimes even prefer to avoid you.
On the other hand, when you have a strong sense of identity, people are immediately drawn to you. They feel good around you. They want to get to know you better.
Building an authentic identity is not an easy process. The reflection of one’s image to the world is a process that very few people can do well. Most people tend to think that putting a few hours in the gym, buying a new pair of shoes or getting a new haircut is all it takes. The rest is up to chance and they’ll take whatever they can get.
But as Robert Greene suggested in the 25th law in the book 48 Laws of Power:
“The recreation of yourself in the eyes of others is a powerful process that must not be left to chance.”
You must take charge of this process from the inside out and from its inception to its fruition. This process can be regarded as somewhat artistic and technical, but I can certainly say that it is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling processes you can partake in.
The origin of this thought comes from Mark Manson’s idea that it’s far more powerful to be something attractive rather than try to say something attractive. I will take this idea further and show you how to recreate your identity and image to other people.
More specifically I will suggest 7 phases to go through in order to start working on this powerful image of yours and help you build the most powerful identity you can project.
How to recreate yourself
Phase 1: Create a blueprint for your lifestyle
Objective: To establish an original vision that stands the test of time and doubts, then determine the changes you need to make this vision a reality.
Most people just browse through a fashion magazine, pick out a trendy coat, put in an order, and call it good. Other people try to establish a theme in their closet best matching their social environments. However, despite looking good in pictures, it all seems random, boring and predictable at the end of the day. What you need is something far more encompassing than that. You need a blueprint for what you do and how you will project that onto the world.
That doesn’t need to be something spectacular or extremely unique. It can be anything you love doing, but what you must have is a purpose and intent behind it.
Think of it as a leveling mechanism that keeps you grounded. As famous ski-racer Jon Olsson stated while describing his love for skiing:
“It’s like the thing that keeps the craziness of life from running away with it.”
Now, I want you to think of a few things that you are already good at or you envision yourself doing. Be it a hobby or something that you want to get paid for doing. Look for a theme that these things are telling you. Are you meant to be an artist? Do you have a penchant for risk-taking adventures? Are you a traveler? Are you an entrepreneur?
You’ll start noticing themes that you can establish around these ideas:
- Who you are – an identity worth finding out.
- What you do very well – a deep and unique competency.
- How you look doing it – personal style and quirks.
The blueprint is the plot of the story you want to tell the world about yourself. The stronger and more coherent the plot, the bigger the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Elements of this blueprint should include the following:
- The setup – where you came from and how your life experiences have shaped who you are.
- The characters – social groups and interests that you love participating in.
- The climax – you must seem to be pushing yourself toward an awesome moment or state in life.
Don’t confuse the blueprint with your sense of purpose. They may be separate things. Your purpose may be deeply connected to writing. However, your passion may be to travel while writing.
Your lifestyle and your purpose can vary incredibly, but they can also mingle together in many different ways.
My purpose is to become a great writer and philosopher. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I live isolated or hang out only in libraries and universities.
I love to travel, go out, and have an intense social life. Writing and philosophy help me stay grounded and allow me to develop skills that enhance my lifestyle.
Phase 2: Deeply immerse yourself in this lifestyle
Objective: Become a skilled leader in your niche field.
This phase is easier than it sounds. Before you can call yourself an authority on something, you must spend many hours practicing it. However, seeming immersed in that field takes just a few steps:
First, you have to be somewhat competent in that particular area of your lifestyle. There is no way around this one. If you love to travel but you can’t read a map and can’t stand hostels and trains, traveling might not be for you.
Second, you must develop some people skills in order to connect with people who share the same lifestyle. This will help you increase your value and credibility in the lifestyle you choose to follow.
Third, you should also be willing to enjoy doing things alone. The best hours that you will spend doing something, will be with yourself. In these hours, you don’t have to listen to others and you don’t have to listen to your mind resisting the voices of others. You can simply shut up (on the inside) and do what you want.
Lastly, you should be able to invest time in that lifestyle. Be it the weekends, be it some hours after work, lifestyle immersion requires time investment.
Phase 3: Create an authentic image for others to sample
Objective: Let others peer into a slice of your lifestyle and slowly discover this image through their curiosity and imagination
Your image can be finely crafted around your lifestyle. There are many ways to do this, but social media is the most prevalent. However, if you abuse social media, your lifestyle will seem too manufactured. Nothing is wrong with this, except for the fact that everybody else is also manufactured. Instead of the in-your-face approach, consider letting people simply peer into your lifestyle.
If you love sailing, then a cover picture on your Facebook profile of a Catamaran cutting through the water in your favorite beach destination is an example of how you can project lifestyle aspirations without revealing too much.
The trick is to let others peak between the false curtains into this lifestyle without letting them go too deep. You are not hiding or tricking them, but avoid overloading them with information.
When you are obsessed with something in life you want to be overloaded with information about it. The brain is simply wired like that. In turn, you would most likely also want to overload others with information to show your technical competency as well as deep interest in it.
This behavior is actually not attractive by the virtue that it allows other no space to imagine. Don’t take that away from them. It is like good storytelling. A great storyteller doesn’t reveal all the information at once. Instead, he reveals small bits, thus keeping the reader craving for more.
Usually, an image or a related article on the topic you like is all you really need to hook people, instead of a whole album of every angle possible of you doing something.
Consider using moments instead of facts. Moments have feelings and meanings. Facts don’t evoke emotion.
A friend of mine loves riding his motorcycle. Instead of just posting a picture of his bike, he might just post a picture of a twisty motorcycle road. That picture speaks volume about the desire to ride and experience the best that life has to offer.
Phase 4: Get indirect feedback from the people you trust
Objective: Fine tune your lifestyle image to increase its audience size and attractiveness.
That’s a tricky one.
You can’t ask your friends what they think about your lifestyle. They are naturally biased, saying good things instead of giving you constructive criticism. You are better off asking strangers, but they usually lack the context necessary to accurately judge. For example, you wouldn’t ask a non-traveler what they think about your upcoming trip to Indonesia or Nepal.
You have to get indirect feedback from people who are familiar with your chosen lifestyle. A forum like reddit is typically the best place for this. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Just remember that this is just an image of you instead of who you are. You are free to play with it and change it as you see fit.
Also don’t be afraid to ask me whenever you want on Instagram.
Phase 5: Organize your life around your image and activities
Objective: Deepen and reinforce your lifestyle image through repetition.
Having a balanced lifestyle (outside of school, work, etc.) takes investment both in time and money. If you don’t organize it right, you will lose interest in it over mundane life tasks that you deem more critical. Slowly, you will also lose control over the creation process and the identity itself.
However, if you set aside a set amount of time per week dedicated to the activities comprising your lifestyle, you will find yourself doing them more. If the lifestyle is on the expensive side, you’ll also find a way to budget your income to match its required investment level.
Once the activities repeat themselves often enough, you’ll find the time and money management aspects become easier. You’ll get into a habit, and be more flexible with it.
Phase 6: Invite others to join
Objective: Let others do the marketing and advertisement for your lifestyle.
You can’t be constantly promoting the image you project, and you don’t want to. It’s tiring and inefficient. Once you have a blueprint and a set of repertoire, simply invite others to join and they will amplify this image for you. People love to talk up others to make themselves feel more valuable also. With the power of your lifestyle, you create a personal brand that people want to be associated with. You will create something like a halo effect around your persona.
Two important things to consider here are:
- Invite everyone, but only work with those who are really interested. The Halo effect attracts two types of people: those who are only in it for the association, and those who actually want to contribute to the image. If you pander to the people with shallow intentions, they will move onto the next association quickly, leaving you to seem like old news. If you cater to the people who want to be just as excited as you are, then they will go on to infect others with this devotion also. It happens to me all the time when I meet people who read the blog and admire my work. When we are together and meet new people let’s say, I don’t need to do anything to promote myself. My people do the talking for me. And that’s an incredible accomplishment.
- Be willing to innovate and refine your identity. If an identity has outlived its purpose or become counterproductive, don’t hang onto it just because! Be willing to walk away from it and create a new one. Also, bear in mind that people who know you for years might try to sabotage your attempts. They will always want to fix you to some image they think of you, because it’s easier to deal with people you can predict. My original name is Andreas. I didn’t like it for personal reasons and one day I decided to change it to Andrian. It took me months to get used to that change and most of the people from my past didn’t want to call me Adrian. I didn’t care. I moved on without them and ignored them. New people know me as Adrian and I love it. Be willing to do bold changes and support them no matter what.
Phase 7: Reap the rewards
Objective: Maximize your benefits.
When people are truly attracted to your new identity, there is very little else that you need to do except to prioritize and maximize your benefits. What many fail to do is to sit back and let the crafted image do its work. People are usually so obsessed with improving or fine-tuning their image that they don’t really allow it to come through naturally.
By all means, however, you need to keep “showing off” in a responsible manner. Be proud of your identity and achievements and make sure to communicate that. Famous people didn’t get to where they are by being humble. Just make sure when you do it to always check your intentions. If you are seeking validation, acceptance, or attention, you are most likely to be seen as needy. If you are flaunting your image and daring others to join, it will be way more attractive.
As a final note, I want to stress out that usually what happens is that you make the lifestyle, not the other way around.
Don’t let the equipment, group, or culture define you. The Aston doesn’t make James Bond cool, James Bond makes the Aston cool. You might be a gear-geek, a collaborator, or a cultural icon, but behind it all, your identity must be ready to be unhinged to these things at a moment’s notice.
Also, watch out for moments that could ruin your identity in the eyes of others, like getting into an argument with somebody who tries to get attention by provoking you. Haters and trolls are everywhere and they just feed on your insecurity. Your image is not your ego, nor should it be tied to your ego. Once you have projected it, you have little control over how it is perceived. Invest your energy only in people that are important to you and ignore the rest.
On that same vein, avoid taking your identity too seriously. Learn to laugh at it from time to time. Be open-minded and flexible. Your identity shouldn’t become an obsession. Your identity is there to empower you. It is a tool to help you enjoy a more authentic and interesting lifestyle.
For a selection of great habits and practices that can help you accelerate the recreation process, check out our 30 Challenges-30 Days-Zero Excuses project.
Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get my articles in your inbox whenever they come out and get access to exclusive content. It is thought-provoking, free, easy to unsubscribe and some great resources will await you once you confirm your subscription
This article was drafted by my good friend Quan and edited by me. All credit goes to him and his exceptional ideas.
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