#025 - BE YOURSELF. Why is that so difficult? The words are easy to say. The actions you must take to get there are a bit more of a challenge. Join Dr. Charles Boyer for a discussion of some ways just to be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.
Hello and welcome to Keys For New Leaders, a podcast Serving Leaders Serving Others. If you are a new or newer leader, or are joining this podcast for the first time, a special welcome to you. And, if you are a returning listener, a very warm welcome back! I’m so glad you’re here for this episode. If you haven’t already done so, please take a minute to hit the subscribe button on your audio program, and you’ll receive notices of future episodes as soon as they are published.
Serving Leaders Serving Others is what we’re all about. In this series of podcasts, my goal is to serve you, the leader, helping you serve others through sharing helpful ideas, suggestions, inspiration, insights, encouragement and sometimes a laugh or two to lighten the load along the way. These are ALL keys to your success as a leader. Think of this podcast as a friendly chat between good friends, and think of me as your friendly guide alongside in your leadership journey. If you have any questions or suggestions, you are welcome to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to hear from you.
Also, remember that it’s YOUR journey, my friend. It’s really all up to YOU. I’m just your guide alongside. Everyone is different, and everyone’s journey is different, too. And, aren’t we glad of that!
As in previous episodes, I’ll ask you three questions toward the end of the program, open-ended and non-judgmental questions to coach you to think a bit more about the topic and how it applies to you. So, are you ready? Here we go!
This is Episode #25, a landmark of sorts as an “over-the-hump” from an even two dozen programs. As I looked back over the previous episodes, we’ve talked about many different topics. Notice I didn’t say “covered the topic.” We didn’t “cover” them, we talked about the topics, and always left room for much more. These are not one-and-done topics, so I plan to revisit some of them in the coming episodes. There is always new information and new ways of looking at things to consider. For now, however, I thought it would be about time to take a good look at ourselves as leaders and just say, “Be Yourself.” Easy to say, but many of us find it hard to do, or at least harder than we expected it would be. I’ve found a great many quotes, quips, articles and books all about just being yourself. Now, think about that. If it was so easy, there wouldn’t be so many people telling us how to be ourselves, would there?
One of my favorite quotes is from Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, who wrote, “Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde lived in the 1800s. Another quote: “To thine own self be true” is a line from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” written around 1600. So, it’s not a new problem, folks! And then recently I ran across a wonderful book by the same title, “Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already Taken,” written by Mike Robbins. He writes honestly and from the heart. It’s a good read with lots to think about, and I recommend it to you.
Be Yourself. Now why is that so difficult? There are many reasons – about as many reasons as there are people on this earth. We’re all unique, one-of-a-kind individuals, and we really can’t be someone we are not. Oh, it’s important to have good role models and try to do the good things that others do – leaders we admire, people we respect, others whose good qualities we want to copy. But we can’t. The role model is just that – a model, not the real McCoy. You can’t really be that other person, no matter how hard you try. I learned that lesson the hard way as a new teacher, ages ago but it seems like yesterday. As I began my teaching career, I tried to be the same kind of teacher that several of my most respected teachers were. And things didn’t go so well at first. I soon found that what worked so much better was to teach in my own way and develop my own style that worked with my students. Oh, I learned a lot of good teaching techniques by observing others, but found that I had to adapt those ideas to fit my own teaching situation, my students, and develop my own style. One size definitely does not fit all.
Be Yourself. But just WHO is that YOU? So much of the time, we tend to define ourselves by our jobs or our belongings. Wayne Dyer wrote that we tend to allow our egos to determine our life path. When that happens, we tend to identify ourselves by one or more of these categories:
· I am what I have – that is, my possessions define me
· I am what I do – that is, my accomplishments define me
· I am what others think of me – that is, my reputation defines me
Do any of these sound familiar to you? How would you complete the description of “I am…”? If you define who you are by what you own, or what your job is, or what others think, then just WHO are YOU? The real YOU tends to disappear all too quickly. I saw a poster recently that said, “Some people get lost for so long they forget what it was like to be themselves. Find Yourself Again.”
Such good advice, but it’s hard to do when for too long we have tended to give more importance to what we have, what we do, or what others think than we do to just be ourselves. Comedian George Carlin had a hilarious routine about all our “stuff” and how we always want to “get more stuff.” Gather a few executives together and what do they talk about? What they do, of course. And what others think? We’re conditioned about that from our childhood days. I can still hear my Mom saying, “You can’t do that – or - You can’t wear that. What will other people think?” Well, now really, why is it important to know what other people think? THEY aren’t ME! It takes courage to be who we really are. Brene Brown wrote that “…loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we will ever do…”
Be Yourself. A 2005 recording by the rock band Audioslave says “To be yourself is all that you can do.” Be your authentic self. And just who is that? It’s that part of you that is NOT defined by your job or what you own or what others think of you. It’s all the things that are uniquely YOU, rather than what you think you are supposed to be and do. I’ve also heard it described as who you are when nobody else is watching. I remember reading what I think would make a great T-shirt message: “What you think of me is none of my business.”
So how do you just BE YOURSELF? Sometimes it’s easier to describe something by what it is NOT rather than what it IS. Some of the descriptions I’ve read tell you to STOP doing this, STOP doing that, DON’T do this or DON’T do that. Too many negatives. We have a tendency to tune out the negative, so I’m going to turn these around into more positive statements. How do these sound to you?
· Focus on positive self-talk. Many of us tend to listen to our inner voices that tell us we can’t do something, or that we’re not good enough, or that we really shouldn’t do that. It’s hard to ignore those messages, but you must let them go. Focus on the positive messages - what you CAN do, what you are really good at doing, and what you really feel good about doing.
· Focus on your strengths. You have a unique set of qualities and skills that are really important to you and that you are really good at. What are they? Rather than worrying about what you’re weakest at, focus on what you do really well. There is always someone else who can do the other things.
· Focus on the present and look ahead to the future. We’ve all made mistakes that we regret, but that’s in the past. What’s in the past must stay there. We don’t get many “do-overs” in life, so focus on forgiving yourself for past mistakes, shake the dust off your feet and keep moving forward.
· Focus on your values, and live into them. It takes courage to act with integrity and in sync with your values. Choosing what is right over what is easy takes a good deal of intestinal fortitude. Always remember that when you are living in sync with your values, you are in a very strong place.
· Focus on what you can do for others. That’s what leaders do. That’s what this podcast is all about: Serving Leaders Serving Others. Mahatma Gandhi was quoted as saying, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
· Focus on accepting yourself. You are one-of-a-kind. Media messaging can make us feel inadequate, unattractive, or just plain dumb at times. Media hype sells diet pills and hair dye and laundry detergent, but it isn’t real. You are! You have many fine qualities, and you aren’t like anyone else. AND – the best part is - nobody else is exactly like YOU! Be proud of who you are. You are special! Remember the line from a Dr. Seuss poem: “…there is nobody else who is you-er than you!”
Be Yourself. The words are easy to say. The talking points are easy to organize into neat lists with bullet points. The actions you must take to get there are a bit more of a challenge. It’s a lifetime adventure, my friend. To wrap things up, I’d like to leave you with two quotes from author John Mason. He wrote, “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy,” and one that I can sure identify with: “I am slowly becoming the person I should’ve been a long time ago.”
Be Yourself, my friend. Everyone else is already taken.
And now, here are those three questions that I promised you. These are open-ended questions just for you to think about and answer as you wish. I hope they will be helpful to you.
1. What are your top three values, and where do they show up in your life?
2. What is one thing you find most challenging about just being yourself?
3. Without describing what you have, what you do, and what others may think of you, how would you complete the thought, “I am …”
And the Special Key is the Key of B, for Be Yourself. Be who you are. Be an original you. Be happy with you. Be amazing.
In the next episode we’re going to talk about the Three Rs, not the ones we learned in elementary school. We’re going to talk about the need to Rest, Recharge, and Restart. American novelist Anne Lamott wrote, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” It’s so important to take good care of ourselves. It’s more than important – it’s an absolute necessity!
Take good care of yourself, my friend. Stay safe and well, and above all else, Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already Taken!