"The Chained Elephant" is one of the short stories from the book "Let me tell you a story" (2010), by Jorge Bucay, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist. Like Bucay, we wanted to use this story to promote reflection on essential aspects of personal and professional well-being, namely the importance of self-knowledge and building and communicating a cohesive and authentic personal/professional brand.
As in many tales, we could begin with a "Once upon a time"...
Once upon a time there was an elephant who grew up tied to a stake. While small, he struggled, trying in vain to free himself from the chains that bound him. As time went by, he gave up fighting. He accepted reality.
What could explain this outcome? How could the Elephant, great and strong, have let himself be quiet, when he was bound by such weak chains, which would certainly have succumbed to his strength by then?
One could speak of a learned discouragement, or even of an ignorance of its strengths, which would enable it to adapt to its surroundings and redefine its path.
We are often like an elephant in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world, in which not knowing ourselves and our resources, as well as not investing in their development, has repercussions on our choices, our authenticity, our well-being and even on the way we present ourselves to others in the context of personal and/or professional relationships.
In order to adapt to the surroundings, and build HIS path, it would have been an advantage for this "elephant" to have a fundamental resource – positive psychological capital. Psychological capital is the psychological state of positive development in which the individual is characterised by: 1) a high confidence (efficacy) to expend the effort required to succeed in challenging tasks; 2) making positive attributions (optimism) about being able to succeed in the future; 3) persevering towards the goal despite obstacles, redirecting the path to get there (hope), 4) as well as showing the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity – resilience (Luthans et al., 2007).
We realise the importance of this psychological capital and the urgency of investing in the development of these resources. Several studies have shown its relevance in terms of psychological well-being, stress management capacity, engagement, professional performance, positive interpersonal relationships, work and life satisfaction (...) (Avey, Reichard, Luthans, & Mhatre, 2011; Luthans & Youssef, 2017).
Promoting this psychological capital involves investing in self-knowledge – "who am I and what kind of person am I becoming?", "where did I come from and where am I going?", "why am I going?", "how am I going?", "when am I going?" – aware that past experiences do not have to limit the choices and paths to be taken. It also requires knowing and analysing one's own potential and limitations at different levels, openness and availability for continuous personal development, as well as practising authenticity on a daily basis.
Personal and professional branding: building and communication
To better understand the importance of personal branding, we ask you to do the following exercise:
Think of someone you admire – it could be from your group of friends or from university. With that person in mind, try to answer the following questions: What do you admire most about that person? What is their working style? What are the person’s main values? (...)
Surely the person you thought of has left an impression on you – their personal brand. We all have a perceived personal brand.
When we talk about personal brand, we include aspects such as the way you present yourself, communicate, your attitudes and behaviour, values, skills, personality, personal image and your digital reputation.
So, before we move on, we pose the following questions:
What is your perceived personal brand? How do they see you as a student / future professional? Are they seeing you in the way you want to?
These questions, which place the emphasis on the knowledge you have about yourself, allow you to open up spaces so that you can strengthen your personal and professional brand and communicate it in an authentic and coherent way.
Building your brand is a process that takes place early on and requires care, since it can easily have a negative impact in the different contexts in which we move, including the digital world.
We constantly leave a "digital" impression, through our shares, comments and interactions, so social media can act as both an ally or an adversary. It is therefore not surprising that very often recruiters turn to the internet to do an online profile check of the candidate, analysing the person in 3 dimensions – identity (who the person is), behaviour (what the person does and says), references (who the person is connected to and what others say about the person).
Considering the importance and the impact of the "digital fingerprint" on our personal brand, we call your attention to the following steps:
STEP 1 – REFLECT ON THE QUESTIONS:
- "In my role as a student / professional how do I want to be recognised? What guides me?"
- "How do you see me as a student / professional (...)?"
- "Is there congruence and consistency between the professional image I present and the one I convey through social media?"
STEP 2 – ANALYSE YOUR DIGITAL PRESENCE AND DON'T FORGET :
- Have a balanced digital presence (analyse what kind of content you share, how regularly you do it, how relevant it is).
- The networks can be useful to publish topics related to your area of expertise at a professional level.
- Avoid polemic subjects or limit some considerations to people closer to you. When pronouncing on a subject, do it with moderation and respect for those whose convictions differ from yours.
- In case you want a sharing space with more privacy, review the privacy of your profile. Do not leave it public. Pay attention to certain posts’ contents. Think about the publication of photos and articles that can be more "daring" (sexy photos, drinking, smoking, using drugs ...) .
- Think about the topics you share and "like". Doing so expresses agreement with a particular subject. If you do it indiscriminately, you may be sending a message that does not exactly correspond to your way of thinking / acting.
- Be careful not to share fake news or contribute to its propagation. Check the sources.
- Do not use social networks to defame your work or colleagues, directly or indirectly, through publications and/or memes. If there are situations that leave you dissatisfied, you should use the appropriate channels.
- In short, think before you post – there are fingerprints thatstay / you can´t erase, and once on the internet forever on the internet.
Your "fingerprint" – the one that makes you unique – is also the one that will help you to better adapt to your surroundings. It implies openness and courage to invest in your self-knowledge and to express yourself in an authentic way, seeking to continuously invest in the development of personal resources.
12 KEY ELEMENTS TO CONTINUE BUILDING YOUR "FINGERPRINT" AND INCREASE YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL CAPITAL
- To invest in self-knowledge and self-acceptance
- To identify, make the most of and enhance your talents
- To be open to learning and to learn from mistakes
- To develop assertiveness
- To create a practice of self-awareness, being aware of your thoughts and replacing them when necessary
- To adopt a positive attitude in face of the circumstances
- To believe in yourself
- To create a list of goals and objectives to achieve
- To identify personal success stories / achievements
- To surround yourself with positive people
- Don't be afraid to make decisions, but don't make them rashly
- Accept that change is part of life and adaptability is key, learning to be flexible with yourself and others
FOR YOU WHO ARE A STUDENT AT FMUL...
Do you want to work on your self-knowledge and personal and professional branding?
Find out more about the consultancy sessions of the "Mapping your way" Project at: https://www.medicina.ulisboa.pt/mapping-your-way
You can also follow us on the social network Facebook and LinkedIn and discover content that can be an asset in building your career and academic and professional success.
 You can find out more information on the topic in About positive psychological capital at:
Avey,J.,Reichard,R.,Luthans,F.,& Mhatre, K. (2011). Meta analysis of the impact of positive psychological capital on employee attitudes, behaviors, and performance. Human Resource & Development Quarterly,22(2),127–152.
Luthans, F., Avolio,B. J., Avey, J. B., &Norman, S. M. (2007).Positive psychological capital: measurement and relationship with performance and satisfaction. Personnel & Psychology, 60(3), 541–572.
Luthans,F.,& Youssef,C.M.(2017). Psychological Capital: An Evidence-Based Positive Approach. Annu. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ. Behav, 4, 339-366
 Tips adapted from Kaltenback (2021). Social networks and professional image: how your posts can influence your career. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/redes-sociais-e-imagem-profissional-como-suas-podem-sua-kaltenbach/
 An important note: #Don't Share – If you are being victimised for sharing content without your consent, collect as much evidence as possible and ask for help. There are appropriate channels for this and to help protect you from cyberbullying. Linha Internet Segura da APAV (email@example.com, www.internetsegura.pt, 800 219 090); Associação #NãoPartilhes
Carla Vale Lucas
Gabinete de Apoio ao Estudante