The Remarkable Power of Being Your True Self
According to serial entrepreneur Lauren Maillian Bias, perhaps the most important thing you can do to find the success you desire is to live life on your own terms. This means deciding what success means to you, being your real self, and then going after your goals with everything you've got. Says Lauren in her book The Path Redefined: Getting to the Top on Your Own Terms, "Work harder than anything at staying grounded and connected to the moral compass that defines you--the spiritual support that pushes you to excel and be whole and completely fulfilled. It's one of the few attributes that you cannot outsource."
How do you make that happen? Give these seven steps a try.
1. Take a good look in the mirror
Being your real self begins with understanding what drives and motivates you, and then figuring out what you really want to achieve in work and in life. If you're unsure what you really want to do with your life, ask yourself the question Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg posed in her book Lean In: "What would you do if you weren’t afraid?" That should get you started.
2. Accept who you really are
Once you figure out what drives and motivates you, the best path to being your real self is to accept yourself for who you really are--the good, the bad, and everything in between. Be your own greatest fan and best friend. You don't need to be perfect. Just be yourself. There's tremendous power in accepting yourself for who you really are.
3. Be accepting of who others really are
One of the best lessons you can learn in life is that it's fruitless to try to change someone else to meet your expectations. Instead of wasting your time this way, accept them for who they really are. The moment you do your relationships will improve and you'll be able to focus your energy where it really counts: on achieving your own personal and professional goals.
4. Be your best creative self
There are many forces working against being your best creative self, including the need to be right, a blind acceptance of fixed work roles, pressure to conform, fear of failure, and others. Be aware of these obstacles and do everything you can to neutralize or remove them from your thinking and behavior.
5. Rely on yourself
While we all benefit from the help of others, and by actively building and maintaining networks of business associates, there is only so much that others can do for us. When we have important goals to achieve it's up to us to do what it takes to achieve them. Become self-reliant without pushing others away. Be welcoming, and invite others to help you on your path to success, but realize that it's ultimately up to you to reach it.
6. Know and respect your limits
None of us can do everything well--we all have strengths and weaknesses. The secret is to focus and build on your strengths while recognizing your weaknesses, and find ways to fill the gaps. For example, you may be a great "idea" person--the guy or gal with a compelling vision of the future. However, you might not be able to manage your way out of a paper bag. In that case, recognize your own reality and hire someone who is a strong manager to offset your weakness in that area.
7. Be at peace
As the old saying goes, "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Be your real self and consistently make decisions that reflect and support that reality. The moment you begin to do that you will find peace in your life--and life in your years. And that's a gift that keeps on giving.
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While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.