Truly happy and successful people get that way by becoming the best, most genuine version of themselves they can be. Not on the outside--on the inside. It's not about a brand, a reputation, a persona. It's about reality. Who you really are.
Sounds simple, I know. It is a simple concept. The problem is, it's very hard to do, it takes a lot of work, and it can take a lifetime to figure it out.
Nothing worth doing in life is ever easy. If you want to do great work, it's going to take a lot of hard work to do it. And you're going to have to break out of your comfort zone and take some chances that will scare the crap out of you.
But you know, I can't think of a better way to spend your life. I mean, what's life for if not finding yourself and trying to become the best, most genuine version of you that you can be?
That's what Steve Jobs meant when he said this at a Stanford University commencement speech:
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.
You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something--your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.
Now, let's for a moment be realistic about this. Insightful as that advice may be, it sounds a little too amorphous and challenging to resonate with today's quick-fix culture. These days, if you can't tell people exactly what to do and how to do it, it falls on deaf ears.
Not only that, but what Jobs was talking about, what I'm talking about, requires focus and discipline, two things that are very hard to come by these days. Why? Because, focus and discipline are hard. It's so much easier to give in to distraction and instant gratification. Easy and addictive.
To give you a little incentive to take on the challenge, to embark on the road to self-discovery, here are three huge benefits from working to become the best, most genuine version of yourself.
It will make you happy. Getting to know yourself will make you feel more comfortable in your own skin. It will reduce your stress and anxiety. It will make you a better spouse, a better parent, a better friend. It will make you a better person. Those are all pretty good reasons, if you ask me.
Besides, you really won't achieve anything significant in life until you know the real you. Not your brand, your LinkedIn profile, how you come across, or what anyone thinks of you. The genuine you. There's one simple reason why you shouldn't try to be something you're not, and it's that you can't. The real you will come out anyway. So forget your personal brand and start spending time on figuring out who you really are and trying to become the best version of that you can be.
You pay a huge price when you engage in mindless distraction. The only people that really care about you are your loved ones, your friends and family. Everyone else is too busy living his own little mini drama. To put it bluntly, your network couldn't care less about you.
That's why engaging yourself and others in mindless distraction isn't worth your time or theirs. More important, it will absolutely keep you from focusing on accomplishing whatever great things you might manage to achieve in life if you set your mind to it.
There's a business concept called opportunity cost. When you choose one course of action, you miss out on all the other opportunities you might have chosen to pursue but didn't. People rarely stop to consider that until it's too late.
It's the most exciting journey you will ever embark on. We're all enthralled by adventure. We love to read and watch movies about other people's journeys, real or imagined. The Hobbit. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Into Thin Air.
We love to take vacations, to travel to all sorts of places. And when we do, we revel in the natural beauty of Kauai's Na Pali Coast, the Grand Canyon, the Alps. We marvel at the great works of others: the art, the architecture, the Pyramids, Stonehenge.
And yet, the opportunity for adventure is right there in front of each and every one of us. Until you take it, you'll never know what you might achieve. What marvels you might create. What you might discover. All you have to do is start the journey.