How many of us can really claim that we are comfortable in our own skin?
I hope many can raise their hand and say “me!”
However, I believe many of us experience a good amount of discomfort, doubt or wishing we were someone else – at least in some aspect of our lives. I know I’m one of those people at times.
How many of us look around and envy some aspect of the people we see? Maybe we wish we were thinner, or more muscular, more successful or had a ton more money?
Or, how many of us are living a life or walking down a path that someone else said we SHOULD have or go down? How many of us are listening to the critics about what we are doing wrong or what we should be doing instead?
As I was writing this, I couldn’t help but think back to the football story of Tim Tebow. Even before he entered the NFL draft, there were countless articles and stories about how he could never be a QB in the NFL and that he should give up his dream altogether or play a different position. Some of that rhetoric would be crippling to the vast majority of us – I know it would crush me!
But despite all that external pressure and opinion, Tebow stayed the course. He knew who he was, who he wanted to be, was crystal clear on his goals, and regardless of the outcome he focused on his dream. And while his career in the NFL was short lived, he lived it as a QB, started as a QB, and won a playoff game or two as a QB.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde
How many of us are living our lives this same way? Are we standing in the face of criticism and brushing it aside… standing up for who we are and remaining laser-focused on bettering ourselves each and every day?
In a world so focused on what other people have, or on what other people expect us to do, what if we instead focus on who we are while making sure the person we see in the mirror is someone we are proud to be?
If I could go back in time and give my high school self some advice, I would tell him to take the time to REALLY think about what he was passionate about while making sure he was staying true to himself in all decisions that he made before embarking on the next big stage of life.
I was never pressured into picking a specific major, but also had no idea what I wanted to do… During my senior year of high school, I took a computer science class and did pretty well at it. I liked technology in general, and after hearing from a few people that there was great money in Computer Science / Information Technology, I figured ‘why not?!’
And so I committed to Computer Science, and stayed the course.
However, during those 4 years I was constantly confronted by uncertainty, doubt and a fear of ‘what’s next’. I questioned whether I should stick with it.
Ultimately, I told myself not to quit while acknowledging a belief that sticking with this major and path was what I was expected to do.
Now don’t get me wrong, that path has created a very fruitful life for me thus far, and has allowed to me learn a great deal about myself and what I want out of life. Having a background in technology created a strong foundation for me to lead IT teams, and run IT-focused projects and initiatives.
Yet I often ask myself the question – is this me? Am I being true to myself and what fires me up? It’s a question that I am finally starting to explore in search for answers.
Looking back, I don’t know if ‘high school me’ would even listen to what I had to say. I just hope my advice to remain true to himself would resonate for the years to come. And while I have no regrets from my past, the underlying challenge of ensuring I am living true to who I am remains more prominent than ever.
Become the Best ‘You’ that You Can Be
Being yourself… it sounds like such an easy concept. However with all the external pressures and expectations, and internal desires to fit in and be accepted, it’s far from easy.
In a society where the successful are admired and revered, it can be tempting to try to mimic or copy the things that they do in order to achieve a similar level of success, notoriety or fame. However the truth is, you aren’t going to be a better ‘them’ than they already are!
So what can we do to navigate the world we live in and remain true to ourselves today in order to build the best version of ourselves for tomorrow?
Learn and Amplify
Above I noted how we can get ourselves into trouble by focusing too much on what others are doing… While true, I also want to encourage all of us to look to those who are successful as they can be great mentors and help us short-circuit our path towards out goals.
The key difference is focusing on what we can learn vs. trying to copy or replicating what they are doing. Learn what you can from others and then use that learning to amplify the strengths and gifts that are already inside you. Stand on the shoulders of giants AND be yourself with your head held high.
Build around your talents
Be clear on what you are naturally talented at and incorporate those things into your personal brand.
I recently wrote a post focused on our strengths that really speaks to the importance of this step. We are all unique and can bring our own combination of strengths and talents onto the field to make our own impact. Be clear on what you are naturally good at and what naturally gives you energy. Tap into that and get ready to play big!
Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not
It can be tempting to jump onboard the latest trend because we’ve seen others find success.
Just because people are using some platform or talking about some hot topic of the month doesn’t mean you need to do the same if it isn’t true to who you are and what you’re about.
Remain clear on who you are and what you stand for – let that be the litmus test before you jump into some new hot thing.
Let your values guide you
What do you value? What guides your decisions? While values change over time given our life experiences, they create the foundation of who we are and how we act in the world around us.
Be clear on what you value, and if you aren’t sure how to articulate your values, invest a few minutes in this free character assessment. It will provide an ordered report of what you value most based on your answers and give you additional insights into what drives and inspires you.
Invest the time to look at yourself and ask the question of whether you are being true to who you are – are you being ‘you” or trying to be someone else?
Personally, whenever I’m unclear about the path I’m on, I try to take moment and take the ‘mirror test’.
Invest a few moments to look at yourself in the mirror. Really look… Look deep into your own eyes and ask yourself if you are living a life that is true to who you are. Or are you trying to be someone or something else? Are you living your dreams and following your path, or someone else’s?
If you can look in that mirror and honestly say you are proud of what you see then get back out into the world and do more of what you are doing! And if you feel that something isn’t quite aligned, then take the time to dig into what that is, and identify what you can do course correct.
There is No Better You than You
All of our journeys in life are unique, therefore there is no perfect equation to figure out our perfect path or ideal version of ourselves.
What’s most important is that we strive to always show up as ourselves no matter where we are – at home, at work, on the field, with friends, family, or anywhere else we find ourselves.
Who we are and how we show up in any one of those scenarios should be the same as all the others.
As you start this new week, take the time to really think about who you are, who you want to be, and how you are showing up in life.
Are you being true to your vision for yourself and what you believe in?
Commit to yourself that you will take one step this week to be undeniably and unapologetically YOU.
We all have an important irreplaceable role to play in life, and the only way to play our best is to bring the very best of our strengths, talents and passions onto the field. Tap into those things this week and #unleash your Inner Athlete!
Discussion Question: Where are you showing up as the best, most authentic version of you? More importantly, where aren’t you showing up that way? What can you do to ensure that you are showing up as yourself in each and every situation in life?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."