At one point in our lives, we have all heard people feed us with lies about what we should do, how we should act, the person we should be, the career we should pursue…the list never ends. If you had immigrant parents, as I did, you also know that being anything other than a Doctor, Lawyer, or an Engineer is considered “failure”. The sabotaging beliefs of self-doubt leave you feeling useless, valueless, and helpless.
The objective of this article is to convince you that what you believe is what you become and show you how to overcome the peer-pressure of conformity.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
I. know who you are
I once asked a Vice President, “what are your 3 words?”, meaning if someone were to describe you using just 3 words, what would they be? I got a look that displayed a mixture of confusion, surprise, and humour. Try it out yourself, you’ll probably get the same response from everyone you ask this to. I find this very odd, that people spend countless hours developing their knowledge of what they do (work, hobbies, etc.) and very little on who they are. It’s not a waste of time to sit down and reflect. It’s an investment, one that should be exercised daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly – forever. Continuously reviewing your thoughts, your goals, your objectives, all to achieve the purpose, the reason of your being.
My awareness was achieved by a combination of reflecting and exploring different avenues of life, activities, and adventures. Every time I tried new things, I observed carefully how it made me feel (was it empowering or disabling? fun or boring?) and if it was something that I really wanted to continue doing, I would reflect on what it is about this that kept me coming back to it? For instance, I enjoy communicating (one of my 3 words) but I also like doing it using different channels i.e. public speaking, blogging, and social media. I enjoy communicating because it allows me to connect with people (one of my 3 words). My ultimate purpose and end goal through communicating and connecting with people, is to make a positive impact (one of my 3 words).
My 3 words are: communicating, people, and impact.
II. build the courage to become who you’ve always been
You see, I always knew who I was, but was too afraid to live in my own skin. Living in my own skin meant that I had to neglect the common consensus, tune out the voice of peer-pressure, and become comfortable with the abilities I innately possessed.
Once awareness is achieved, the real action, the real test lies in the courage of acting on this realization – becoming who you come to know you are. I can spend hours upon hours talking to you about how to achieve this, what techniques to use, etc. but really, at the end of the day when you rest your head on that pillow, ask yourself are you happy? Simple question, are YOU happy? If your answer is yes I am, but….then you need to go back to step I and come back to this step, stop making excuses, get your bum off the couch, and start living – on your own terms and in your own skin.
III. focus on your strengths
I believe everybody has a superpower, an intrinsic quality embedded in one’s DNA, something they are naturally apt at doing. I have also come to learn and respect different ways we, as humans, can display our geniuses. When you know what you are really good at, I encourage you to over-index on those facets and invest more time developing them, rather than dwelling on what you are not so good at. Time, is a depleting asset, one that is extremely valuable and priceless, so what you do with it determines your outcome. You can place your focus on what you wish you had, or zone in on the weapons you are already equipped with and leverage them to further your success.
I’m a big fan of focusing on your strengths because I am a firm believer that if you’re going to be successful, you’ll have a much better chance if you apply your strong suits doing things you like and make you happy. If I was forced to become an Engineer, a profession that requires lots of analysis, mathematics, physics, etc. I would have failed miserably. Even if I applied my crazy work ethic, outworked everyone, studied day and night, I would still be average. Why? Because that’s not me. I know myself very well, and know that I do much better in business, thinking strategy, building relationships, communicating with people, sales, etc. In a context where I am free to apply my strengths, my genius is revealed, and in a context where I am forced to develop my weaknesses, my genius is demolished.
IV: keep your eyes on the prize
The above picture speaks for itself. On the one hand, you have a champion, one of the most decorated olympians in history with 23 olympic titles and 28 medals, focused on one and only one goal, to win. On the other hand, you have his competitor, who became more concerned with where his opponent stands and less on winning the race. At a moment so critical, an event which defines your legacy, and where winning is sometimes determined based on milliseconds of a difference, all that it comes down to is how rigid your focus is.
Have you noticed that when travelling on the road of personal development, the detractors, the haters, and the doubters immediately show up? People, who are more concerned with bringing you down, crushing your dreams, and ridiculing your every move – because they can’t bear the thought of watching you reach levels they only dream of. This is why step I and II focus around knowing yourself and being courageous enough to act on this realization, because when you truly believe in yourself, in your abilities, and in your purpose, no person alive will ever stop you from getting what’s yours. If your beliefs are correctly aligned, your behaviours will pivot into a gear that’ll enable you to win. Don’t worry about what other people think or say, don’t worry about what other people are doing, you just keep focusing on yourself and be the best you can be.