There is much to be said about being yourself. From a young age we hear “Just be yourself, everyone else is taken” and similar adages. While they have a nice ring to them, and hold much truth, it can be hard to apply and ever harder to see why. We know that Success leaves clues, and reinventing the wheel isn’t the most effective plan of action when trying to accomplish big things, but how do we find a balance between the two? The comparison game is real and while we may start out looking for inspiration and all the right reasons, and – if we’re not careful – we may soon find ourselves mimicking our role models and losing our own identity in the process.
The Role of the Role Model
Having a role model(s) to look up to in any aspect of life is so important. They influence us for the better, inspire us, help shape us, model what it looks like to truly overcome difficulties and press ahead in the face of adversity, allow us to connect dots in our own lives & push us to strive for more. However, when we become obsessed with emulating the exact path that someone has walked, recreating the same actions, picking up the same idiosyncrasies and expecting the exact same results – we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Accept That Your Path is Your Own
There will be a plethora of lessons you can learn, many landmines you can circumvent and many pains you can avoid by studying the lives of others, but you must come realize that some oppression is inevitable. Failure is not only unavoidable, but absolutely 100% necessary. Not knowing, having to dig for answers, having to fall flat on your face and get up over, and over and over is a blessing. It teaches resilience, ingenuity and can truly be your greatest asset. Sarah Blakely, creator of Spanx, once said “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
Forge a New Path
We’re all on a journey in this life, all at different points and seasons. This means there will always be people “ahead” of us and people “behind” us (for lack of better words). You only need to be one step ahead of someone else to help them on their journey. You also only need to glean so much information at a time – or you can easily fall into the information overload / analysis paralysis trap. Let’s break those down a little.
The Student Becomes the Teacher
One of my favorite bible verses, 2 Cor 1:4 says “[God] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” Of course, this applies to any and all aspects of life. We receive help, comfort, guidance, compassion, teaching, training, etc. from others who have “been there, done that” and then in turn, we help those who are going through what we already experienced. Another verse, “Everyone, after fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Learning and growing is a beautiful blessing that adds richness to our lives and paves the way for success – but if it stops there, we are abdicating our responsibility of helping others who need our help. Helping others through their own struggles and trials of life is a true blessing to them, but also to us.
Take it Easy
It can be really exciting to learn something new, trust me I know. I love learning and can get carried away consuming all the things. But one of the most common traps people fall into, especially in entrepreneurship, is being an “over-consumer”. Chances are, most of us already know what to do. Most of us already have at least the faintest idea of what actions to take to get us moving in the direction we need to go – but we fall into “busy work”, it makes us feel good. Our brain gets the same dopamine kick of accomplishing something that we’d get by taking actual tangible action, otherwise known as IPA’s (Income Producing Activities). Learning is great and all, but knowledge does nothing if you don’t implement it!
The second part to this is learning way too much, way too far ahead. What I mean by that is, let’s take for example someone who is just starting out their business. Let’s call her Sally. Sally wants to publish a book. She has a stellar idea and even has a general outline formed, but hasn’t officially started the writing process. Most of us would agree that Sally should focus on the Creation part of book writing, and not worry about the nuances of publishing, marketing, etc. Of course those things are critical, and yes some early marketing/email list building/etc. is smart to begin from the get-go, but diving full-steam-ahead into the ins and outs of publishing are going to flood her brain, slow down her overall progress and potentially overwhelm her to the point where the task ahead seems so impossible that she gives up. One step at a time is the right way to move.
You Don’t Need (or Want) Everyone to Like You
Everyone has a preference. Everyone has likes and dislikes. Like snowflakes, no two people are the same. No one is going to love everything about everyone. In fact, if you think about the person(s) closest to you right now, I bet you could think of one (or several) things you don’t really like about them, am I right? The same goes for those you don’t care for, go on… there’s gotta be someone… Can you think of a trait or two that, although you don’t care for the person, you can admire about them? We’re not going to be for everyone, but the right people will find us if we’re putting value out there directed at them. Just like not everyone is going to want to work with you, you are not going to want to work with everyone. You are unique, and that is what makes you special to your people.
We sort of touched on this above, but I want to clarify and help you see a clear path to being 110% comfortable in your own skin, on your own path and doing your own thing. The truth is, I used to be guilty of this “looking right and left” constantly thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done the ol’ “Wheel of Fortune” spin over and over to get to the very “beginning” of someone’s journey on Instagram, Youtube or their blog. “Surely, if I can see how they began, exactly what they did to build up and get where they are, I too can be just as great as they are!” I’d say. I’d even take screenshots so that I could “borrow ideas and inspiration” from their early days. I thought I was onto something. I soon realized that half of their posts, videos or photos didn’t resonate with me at all, and would have made me look and sound like a total faker. And, let me tell you, the internet can smell a faker a mile away. It’s ok to get inspiration and ideas here and there, but truly the ones who ultimately succeed, excel and are in their zone are the ones out there forging their own path, looking ahead at their own personal vision and breaking molds of what’s “normal”, “popular” and, yes, even “trendy”.