Modesty is a quality that is highly esteemed in society, especially in women, so it’s no wonder that “good girls” are meant to be modest. Modesty has long been touted as virtuous with its connotations of being demure, prideless, quiet, hidden, seen but never heard. We’re taught to stay in the background, not to stir desires or strive for exceptionalism, to be helpers who never need help. Essentially, we’re indirectly advised to ration our light, to ensure it’s palatable for the world and never too bright to shock or overwhelm.

As we climb the ladders in our businesses and personal lives, seeking to brand and position ourselves in the best light possible, this ingrained modesty becomes a stumbling block. Think about it. Branding is about boldly and vividly showcasing everything unique and compelling about what we offer. It demands that we step into the limelight, flaunt our personalities, and engage with the world without fearing rejection or being labeled as ‘too much’ or ‘immodest.’ It’s an open invitation to show up, loud and honest, about who we are and what we bring to the table.

Yet, many of us, clinging to our good girl upbringing, find this challenging. We may not even know who we are other than modest and shy away from unleashing the full spectrum of our capabilities, spirit, eccentricities, or powerful emotions that will move masses. We’re haunted by the fear of being seen as unworthy, inappropriate, or simply ‘not good enough.’ But here’s the thing: branding isn’t about being universally accepted or watered down to fit in everywhere; it’s about resonating passionately with the right people. It’s about creating a connection that isn’t predicated on playing it safe but instead on being authentically you – whatever that may be.

The concept of modesty, emphasizing being likable and not too conspicuous, directly contradicts the essence of effective branding. A brand isn’t meant to be universally benign and inoffensive; it’s meant to stir emotion and be unabashedly itself, ensuring it attracts those genuinely interested in what it represents. Let me be clear: this is not an invitation to immodesty but a request to look beyond what’s been ascribed to you and into what you care about. So this isn’t to say that modesty doesn’t have its place, but rather, in branding, it’s about finding the balance between staying true to one’s values and not dimming one’s light for fear of standing out too much or being perceived.

  • A modest business owner’s personality and hesitation to speak about themselves, their company, or their accomplishments can significantly impact brand visibility, perceived value, and growth opportunities, meaning the brand’s narrative is not being fully shared or understood by the potential audience, affecting the brand’s ability to connect with its target market on an emotional and value-driven level. This leads to
    • Missed opportunities for publicity
    • Missed opportunities for partnerships
    • Missed opportunities for customer loyalty
    • Diminished market differentiation
    • Weaker customer relationships
    • Slower business growth
    • Unique selling propositions and achievements are under-communicated, which affects the ability to attract and retain customers and partners

Breaking free from the modesty trap doesn’t mean abandoning who we are or our core values; it means redefining what it means to be a ‘good girl’ in the context of our aspirations and dreams. It’s about understanding that being modest doesn’t mean hiding our brilliance or soft-pedaling our achievements. It’s a call to be rambunctious, beautiful, and glorious in our brand expression, to live uninterrupted, and to share our light in its fullest, most undiluted form. The world doesn’t benefit from you playing small.

Here’s what we’re going to do! 

  1. Reframe Modesty (I love a reframe!):
    • Understand that sharing achievements is not just bragging but an essential part of business growth. View storytelling as a way to inspire and help others rather than self-promotion.
  2. Set Personal Branding Goals:
    • Define branding goals and create a plan to achieve them.
    • Focus on specific, achievable actions such as writing articles, speaking at events, or engaging on social media.
  3. Embrace Vulnerability:
    • Sharing personal stories, including challenges and failures, to build authenticity and connection. Understand that vulnerability can be a strength that attracts and resonates with the audience and helps you to address the real reasons you refuse to shine. (Quick note: we share publically from scars because it’s now a story/lesson and privately from wounds because we’re getting help)
  4. Document, Reflect, and Celebrate Small Wins:
    • Keep a journal of achievements, lessons learned, and personal growth.
    • Acknowledge and celebrate milestones and achievements, no matter how small.
    • Share these successes publicly and with relevant people and reflect on the impact of sharing these stories, and adjust strategies accordingly.
  5. Seek Mentorship:
    • Find mentors or coaches who can provide guidance and encouragement.
    • Learn from other successful business owners who have overcome similar challenges.
  6. Practice Gratitude:
    • Use gratitude to remember what it took to achieve your accomplishments, and share your gratitude by acknowledging the process.
  7. Leverage External Voices:
    • Encourage team members, clients, and partners to share their positive experiences and testimonials. Use these endorsements to highlight your contributions without self-promotion.
  8. Keep learning, growing, and taking care of yourself:
    • The more we better understand ourselves, the better we can create safety and be more daring than we’ve been trained to be. Modest is safety, but entrepreneurship is risky – take care of yourself to increase your risk tolerance and ability to show up well. 

When you move past modesty as your primary personality trait, you can embrace your impact, tell stories to inspire others, engage life with authenticity over perfection, and celebrate progress while you keep growing. You deserve to be seen and celebrated for all of the things that you do and the ways you are growing.

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