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Will The Real You Please Stand Up

Will The Real You Please Stand Up

Influencers are everywhere. They’re not just the writers, thinkers, and politicians of this world. Anyone who trains, teaches, negotiates, advises or sells is an influencer. In our business – as in our personal – lives our success is to some degree the product of our ability to influence others.

We’re already acutely aware of this, and for most of us, it represents a problem. It’s a problem because we see in ourselves personal weaknesses, and these we define as impediments to our success – things that stop us from achieving, things that hold us back.

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We all have something about ourselves that we would like to change. Personal insecurity or social anxiety makes it difficult for us to speak to strangers. Lack of education or experience makes us feel inferior and inadequate. Lack of self-assurance, whether on its own or resulting from the preceding, kills our confidence, and stands between us and the success we want.

This affects us in many ways. At work, socially, and in our personal lives. We don’t measure up to the competition – for this job, that opportunity, or the attractive girl in the corner.

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Those things about ourselves that we’d like to change, we internally characterize as “faults.” That’s why we’d like to change them. We see them like this by agreement with ourselves, that they are weaknesses which we cannot control and which diminish us as people.

Self-image is entirely subjective and uniquely critical.

We don’t realise how common this is. It’s a part of the human condition, it’s everywhere, but we tend to recognize it only in ourselves. We see successful people and our response is “I wish I could be like her,” or, “He’s got something I don’t have.” And so, when we set out to influence others – by selling to them, teaching them, negotiating with them – we are confronted, and hampered, by a sense of our weakness, and the belief that it makes us less effective. How do we react? By bluffing. We pretend to be someone and something that we don’t think we are because we’ve already agreed with ourselves that we’re not.

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For all this is a natural approach, it’s the wrong approach. It’s the wrong approach because it fails to understand the most fundamental component of influence-based success. Trust.

Question: What, more than anything, do we look for in those we allow to influence us? Answer: Authenticity. In the round. We relate to people we like, and that we see as genuine, even if flawed. We look at their story as a whole. We don’t choose our influencers for their unique brilliance. We choose them for their unique, individual, perspective.

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Everyone has one of those. Everyone’s story is unique. It’s the real you – the product of who we are as much as of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. And none of us is perfect. We’re all different, but where we’re the same is we’re all a combination of strengths and weaknesses. Our particular combination, married to our experiences, is what makes each of us unique. The reality is that your USP is the sum of your whole story, and those “weaknesses” are an essential component of the greatest asset you have.

How you are is who you are. If you’re not comfortable with the real you, then you’ve got a problem. Because when you try to present a different, modified persona you sacrifice your authenticity. That’s not hard to spot and, chances are, you don’t succeed.

You can’t be likeable if you don’t like yourself.

Accept yourself as you are. It’s why the people who already like you, like you. Be entirely yourself and so will others. That matters because to trust you, people have to like you. You can’t be a likeable person unless you like yourself. And once you get comfortable with yourself and accept that this is what and who you are, the things you weren’t happy about will assume a whole new definition. Nobody does everything well; imperfection is not simply normal it’s universal and, viewed from that perspective, your subconscious stops telling you that you’re not capable. And once you’ve embraced the real you there’s no pressure to be something different.

Here’s an example: Novice salesmen tend to be less successful than their more experienced colleagues. This doesn’t just apply to salesmen of course, but salesmen are what I know. They attribute this lack of success to their lack not of experience, but technique. Almost every new salesman I ever trained believed that there is a secret, magic trick to selling and that learning it was the key to success- not knowing it was what was holding them back. In that category, I include my younger self, incidentally. That vital secret proved elusive and in the end, I did what I should have been doing all along. I told my customers: “I’m new to this, and I’m not an expert salesman. But I know the product. So I’ll explain it to you, I’ll answer any questions you may have, and I’ll give you a price.” A strange and wonderful thing happened. In being open, honest and transparent, I took all the pressure off myself. I had no need, or reason, to pretend I was someone different. And I took all the pressure off the customers who, as is the case, felt intimidated by slick salesmen. The more I did this, the more I sold. And the more experience I developed, the more I realized that there is, in fact, no magic secret. People are influenced by people – real people. And we already are, each of us, a real person.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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