“Be yourself. Every else is taken.” You’ve probably heard that advice, but have you put it to use? Or maybe you’ve been told to be “more authentic” or to stop “acting.” No matter the words used, the message remains the same: Be you.
But what the heck does that mean? After all, you can’t be anyone but yourself—unless you are an actor playing a part.
Therein lies the problem.
All too often, we just play the part—of a mother, a wife, an employee, a boss, an athlete, a spiritual seeker, or a business person. Choose the title, and you may discover you’ve been acting “as if” you are that person. You don’t believe you are that person—not 100 percent. So you put on a mask or adopt the behaviors you think correspond with the role.
While acting “as if” can be an effective personal growth strategy, a problem arises when you don’t adopt the new, positive behaviors as your own in the process. You remain yourself but continue playing a role.
There’s a difference between acting as if you are a particular type of person until you become that person versus continually acting as if you are someone you are not. The former is a way to change yourself for the better. The latter leaves you feeling inauthentic, out of integrity, and incongruent because you aren’t showing up in life as the “real” you.
You aren’t being yourself.
You may try to be someone else because you don’t feel good enough in any area of life. That feeling of “not enough” can arise when you compare yourself to someone you think is more than enough.
Comparison can lead to playing a part rather than being yourself. For example, if you think someone is a better mother because she is demonstrative and always puts her children first—and you do not, you might try to be more like her. Or if you want to be a businessperson and see other entrepreneurs acting confident or bossy, you might start acting more confident and bossy.
But choosing how to behave based on a comparison with people’s behavior doesn’t allow you to bring yourself to the situation. You bring other people instead. You are better off simply trying to do a better job of being you.
As a Certified High Performance Coach, I help my clients consistently rise above standard norms. However, I’m not talking about standard norms in their peer group, industry, or circle of influence. I’m talking about their own standard norms.
I want them to improve their current way of operating—to level up in every life arena. That means creating a new standard norm in health and wellness, relationships, career, finances, emotional state, or whatever is important to them.
The new standard norm for each client is based on them becoming a better version of themselves. This is where acting “as if” can work well. For instance, if you would like to be more present in your relationships, you would act “as if” you were always present in relationships.
You might use a role model for this—base your behavior on that of someone you consider enormously present in relationships. (This is not a comparison.) Or you might decide what being present in a relationship looks like. You could determine what characteristics are necessary to be that type of person or what characteristics you would like to embody.
As you act as if you are that person already, you focus on doing a better job of being yourself—not someone else. I call this “stepping into your best self” …not someone else’s best self.
It’s important to have role models. These are people you look up to. You may even want to emulate them. In the end, though, you have to be you.
You can adopt certain habits or mindsets that serve you—even those you see others model. You can change in ways that help you become the best version of yourself—even in ways demonstrated by successful people you know.
In the end, though, you have to fulfill your own personal potential in your own unique way. You have to be you.
Everyone has unique gifts. Some people can write, while others can sing. Some are good with money, and others have a knack for healing. But these qualities do not determine your greatness or if you have succeeded in life.
Your success ultimately depends on how you live your life. Most of all, your success depends on living as your authentic self to the fullest extent possible.
Be More Like You
Let me share a story with you. Zusha, the great Chassidic master, lay on his deathbed crying. One of his students asked, “Why are you so sad? After all the good deeds you have done, you will surely receive a great reward in heaven!”
“I’m afraid!” said Zusha. “When I get to heaven, I know God will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you more like Moses?’ or ‘Why weren’t you more like King David?’ Instead, he will ask, ‘Zusha, why weren’t you more like Zusha?’ And then what will I say?”
This story has a clear lesson: You aren’t expected to be more like anyone except yourself. And the degree to which you are yourself is how you measure success in this lifetime.
Life is not a competition or comparison with anyone but yourself. And the ultimate test of how well you lived your life comes down to how well you expressed yourself—the real, authentic you.
If you lay on your deathbed, could you say you expressed yourself to the fullest extent possible? If not, it’s time to focus every day on bringing more of yourself to everything you do. Be you.
Do you show up fully as yourself every day in all life arenas? Tell me in a comment below—and if you know someone who would find this post helpful, please share it!
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Are you struggling to be you? Would you like to put down the mask and stop playing roles? Give me an hour or so of your time, and I’ll help you find and be yourself. In the process, you’ll take huge strides toward fulfilling your potential and purpose, realizing your dreams, and becoming the best version of yourself. You know you can be more…do more…achieve more…contribute more. And it’s time to do that. Apply for a FREE Coaching session. Fill out this application.
Or register for my Certified High Performance Group Coaching program here. This is a great option if you don’t feel ready for one-on-one coaching and want to enjoy the power of group learning. This program features the connection provided by community and requires a lower investment than one-on-one coaching.