What are you stealing from others by not being yourself?

“Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.”

Honore de Balzac

How comfortable are you in your skin? Are you living your own real and authentic life? How much time and energy do you spend “playing a role” instead of being the person you were born to be? Do you even know who it is you were created to be?

Answering these questions is hard. Being brutally honest with yourself is challenging beyond belief. It can be much easier to “go with the flow” and be the person others expect you to be, but what is the cost of doing this? What are you giving up? If you aren’t at ease in your skin, how do you expect anyone else to be at ease?

Perhaps another way to think of this is to consider what you are stealing from others by not being your true and authentic self. If that doesn’t make you ill at ease, I don’t know what will…

Do you seek out cheerleaders or coaches?

“The naked truth is always better than the best-dressed lie.”

Ann Landers

The most prolific liar in the world is the one that exists within our own minds. We create stories and narratives based on one-sided perceptions so far removed from the truth that in hindsight it can be difficult to understand how one ever believed what at one time was seen to be an indisputable fact.

Because our minds are so good at creating an account we want to believe in it is critical to intentionally foster relationships with others who will share with you the full and naked truth. I like to think of these relationships along a continuum. On one end you have a cheerleader, and on the other end, you have a coach.

A cheerleader will motivate and inspire you, they bring active energy to bear and help you feel good about yourself. But they aren’t going to tell you what you have to do in order to win. The cheerleader’s job is to build and focus on energy development. At the extreme, a cheerleader isn’t going to tell you the truth, the hard and unvarnished reality, instead the cheerleader tells you what you want to hear.

The role of the coach is to tell you what you NEED TO HEAR. The coach brings the naked and unfiltered truth to bear so you can actually get better. A great coach won’t allow you to believe in the well-dressed lie and can help you move past the stories you create inside your own mind.

The hardest truth to hear is the naked truth, yet it is the most powerful because with this truth you can change yourself, and therefore change the world…

athlete athletic baseball boy
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It’s a gift, give it…

“If you aren’t gonna say exactly how and what you feel, you might as well not say anything at all.”

Johnny Cash

There is such incredible value in having the awareness to understand what you feel and why, AND the courage to communicate it to others in a way that serves to enhance the relationship, not shut it down.

To know something, and bottle it up, might rob those around you of incredible insight and knowledge. It might diminish your standing and ability to get really important things done.

Having something to say, and not saying it, is like getting someone a gift and not giving it…

Enlist perspective…

“The most important thing about getting somewhere is starting right where we are.”

Bruce Barton

Once you have made the decision to “go” what is next? How do you start? Where do you start? The best practice I have ever found to help accomplish this is the classic “Gap Analysis.” I have written about this before here.

The real key to getting somewhere is being able to conduct an honest assessment of where you really are right now. It is so easy to buy into a false sense of self or have perceptions that aren’t reality. Enlist of the help of trusted friends and colleagues to bounce your ideas off of and ask this one question.

“Based on your understanding of my goals and desires, what is the one action you would recommend I take today to move forward?”

You don’t have to agree with the answers, you don’t even have to like the answers. But you do have to listen. If these are truly people that you trust and respect, then they have an interest in your success. Gaining outside-in perspective is incredibly valuable and can help you identify things you might have otherwise overlooked.

Starting where you are doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. Enlist the help of others. Enlist their perspective to ensure that you are truly starting from the right place.

Don’t compromise…

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”

Henry David Thoreau

In order to be “true to your work, your word, and your friend” one must first have a full and clear understanding of what is most important in your life. What are the “non-negotiables” that form the bedrock of what you believe and define your decisions and your behaviors?

Find work that aligns with those principles. Don’t compromise.

Let your words always match those principles, even when it is hard to say what needs to be said. Don’t compromise.

Choose your friends based on aligned principles and values. Don’t compromise.

Doing these things is what allows you to be true and live a life of authenticity. Don’t compromise, because if you do, you aren’t being true.

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