Don’t try to be somebody else. You have to be yourself at all times. – John Wooden

John Wooden’s words are easy to say and appreciate. Great quote, right? Who doesn’t want to be themselves? In practice, however, being yourself instead of someone else is hard. We receive a barrage of messages from the world around us telling us who to be – what is good, what isn’t, what we should value, what we shouldn’t. The list of instructions we receive telling us who we are and who to go on and on. How can we, then, drill down to the essence of who we are? Imagine the same process for a company or organization, filled with individuals who are all unique, striving to work together.

I firmly believe we are each made with a unique gift and purpose to share with the world. When we find it and are true to it, amazing things happen. Our work and life are infused with a sense of connectedness and meaning, and we are more able to engage in the world around us from a place of wholeness. Imagine what the world would be like if we all were able to be ourselves, our real selves. Think what it would be like if you and those you lead (or work with) were people like that. Wow. Amazing right?

You (all) can get there. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a challenging one. Release the messages you’ve heard about who you should be, about what your team should be. Release the ideas you hold onto about what your team or company should look like. Some of the messages you carry are probably great, they’ve got you where you are, right? And maybe that’s enough. But, maybe, if you’re like most people, it’s not – and you aren’t quite sure why. So, put those messages aside just for a bit. You can pick them back up soon. For now, let’s be curious. Let’s take a deeper look at who you (and your team or company) are, who you want to be, and how you can close the gap if there’s a difference.

In a 2013 Forbes article about finding purpose, author Margie Warrell outlines several questions you can ask yourself to get crystal clear on connecting with your true self, your purpose.

  • What makes you come alive?
  • What are your innate strengths?
  • Where do you add the greatest value?
  • How will you measure your life?

Finding answers to these questions isn’t a weekend project, but you can put the time in, be honest with yourself, and take steps to reshape your life about who you truly are and the gift you bring to the world. Then you can put that new self-awareness into practice. That means being your whole self and engaging in the world around you from the perspective of who you really are, not who you should be. And, it means appreciating your uniqueness, valuing it, and helping others find theirs, too.