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Why “Be Yourself” Is Advice You Shouldn’t Truly Believe

Why “Be Yourself” Is Advice You Shouldn’t Truly Believe

We often hear the advice “be yourself” when it comes to personal and professional situations, but how much should we really show our true colors? Authenticity and showing our honest thoughts and feelings are seen as a positive thing so why is the advice to “be yourself” not entirely appropriate or true?

The Art of True Authenticity and Sincerity

The advice to be yourself isn’t about manipulation, as well as showing your true thoughts and personality at the right times, while taking into consideration and respecting others. It’s a fine balance of keeping your authenticity and using it in an appropriate manner.

Authenticity is all about our ability to be self-aware. It’s about knowing who we truly are, as well as knowing our values, emotions, and our competencies. It’s also about how we come across to others and having the self-knowledge to act in a certain way that shows tact and diplomacy.

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In the workplace, being authentic takes on the notion of being completely honest even if that means being ruthless. The problem with this is that there is such a thing as being too honest. Furthermore, this can harbor your ability to be an effective leader and influencer. True authenticity goes beyond showing your true personality as there are so many varieties of personality that don’t necessarily match with good leadership. Imitating the person we want to be is a more effective way to pursue success, but we also need to keep a sense of sincerity.

The Risks of Being Yourself

1. Losing credibility with others. If we show our true feelings there will undoubtedly involve fears; however, revealing your fears to others can lead them to lack confidence in you. Being yourself means being transparent in your thoughts and even worries which can have a negative effect on morale. It’s important to think about how your influence ultimately affects others. Fear is the number one honesty factor that devalues ourselves in the minds of other people. As a manager, if you make a decision but mention your fear for the outcome; while being honest about it, there is a danger that a lack of confidence will prevail in your team.

2. You create a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. Being our true self is abstract because we evolve according to our experiences. Acting in a way that shows our “true self” keeps us in a fixed mindset with a sense of introspection which stops us from evolving and growing as a person. A growth mindset is how we ultimately gain new perspectives and become a more worldly, rounded person. So, by sticking to being yourself, you are hindering your growth and staying in your comfort zone.

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3. There’s a chance you could make bad decisions. Acting by your values is important but sometimes this will lead you to make choices based on emotion rather than true information and data. By doing this, you are potentially open to making bad decisions without fully taking on all sides and perspectives. We are governed by past experiences and opinions that may not always be supportive in the here and now. While you are being authentic, in a way that may not fully fit with current important decisions. For example, not taking a certain path because you’ve had a bad experience with something similar in the past will cut off any potential success.

How To Be Effectively Authentic and Sincere

1. Allow yourself to grow. Adopting a growth mindset means accepting that your opinions and thoughts will change over time through experiences. Acting in ways that help you flourish in all areas of life will help towards making better informed decisions while staying authentic and genuine. Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone and the ability to see other perspectives will go towards better judgement.

2. Timing and relevance. Being self-aware and understanding the importance of timing and tact is key when dealing with others. Being yourself can lead to opinions that may not be relevant or just bad timing. When we’re being ourselves, we are essentially self-promoting and can sometimes deflect from the task at hand. Make sure your timing is in line with your aims and question, whether it is relevant to the outcome of the task or not. Personal information should be kept to a minimum. Ask yourself if what you’re saying is a benefit to the job.

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3. Understand contexts. We need to adapt to different cultures because we are all different. It’s important to acknowledge and respect each other’s actions and opinions. Understanding this, and making decisions while taking into account cultural contexts, will help you become more successful and generate more respect from others. Do your homework before working or talking with people from different countries so as not to accidentally offend.

4. Don’t get personal. By this, I mean don’t disclose too much personal information or emotion. While this can help you bond with others, if you don’t know the person (or people) yet, this can cause you to come across as trying too hard, being awkward, or even needy. Your aim might be to break the ice but this can backfire, so disclose personal stories or information for when you have established more of a relationship.

Conclusion

While being yourself is important, be careful with the amount of information and opinions you express around others. Be mindful of different perspectives, ideas, and cultures. Think about tact and timing. This isn’t about being fake or being insincere, it’s about showing a tactful intelligence that demonstrates a willingness to grow and evolve as a person and as a leader. Being aware of how you come across brings success on both a personal and professional level.

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Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via stocksnap.io

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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