Being your best starts with being true to yourself. This is true in all areas of life – both professionally or personally. I would like to share a personal story about someone I know and love, who figured out that you can create a better self with courage and true self-acceptance.
The journey to be your best starts with self-acceptance.
My nephew Brady was born in Massachusetts right outside of Boston. Being born and raised in MA, my brother was so excited to have his first son, and it was simply a matter of which sport Brady would play. Needless to say, my brother put every possible ball in Brady’s hands as soon as he could walk.
Like any child, Brady wanted to make his parents proud, but sports were of no interest to him. Instead, he loved theater and found himself drawn to strong female characters on Broadway and in pop culture. He didn’t connect with what the boys his age were doing but instead related more to what the girls were interested in.
Fast forward to today, Brady is now Brooke, a healthy 15-year-old teenage girl. Through some deep soul-searching and the support of her parents, Brooke realized that she identifies differently from the sex assigned to her at birth. She is shedding the confusion and low self-esteem of living in Brady’s world and is now embodying the self-love and self-acceptance of Brooke, her true self.
We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, and what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be challenging. I am so proud of my new niece Brooke. Listening to her gut about who she really is will continue to help her grow into the best version of herself.
You must align yourself with your true mission or purpose.
Though certainly unparalleled in struggle, I’d like to take this story’s lessons in a different direction. How many people do you know who are trying to make it work in a job that is completely wrong for them? Though career-related, finding the right calling is one that also speaks to self-acceptance and authenticity. Spending your days trying to fit a square peg in a round hole will not make anyone happy. Everyone’s personal best is different, and you must align yourself with your own purpose. Know who you are first and foremost, what makes you happy and fulfilled, and then become the best version of yourself.
7 Tips to Being Your Best
Start with what you love – I am always struck by how many people have no idea what makes them happy in the workplace. But then I sit back and reflect and realize how many people are simply told that you grow up, get a job, and work for the next 40+ years. The conversation around what we love and how to turn that passion into a career does not happen nearly enough! You might not have really taken the time to think about the things that you love and how they can relate to a career, but commit to dedicating some time to it to determine if your current path is something you are truly passionate about.
Some questions to consider: What do I like about my job? What do I hate? Do I like interacting with people, or do I prefer to work alone? Do I enjoy solving problems, or do I prefer to follow instructions? Do I prefer a routine or spontaneity? Is it important that I am helping others? What skills do I have that I am proud of?
Be willing to start over – The path to mastery is not a clear shot. At any moment, you have to be willing to start over again and throw everything you’ve been doing out the window. The more you are willing to do this, the less time you will waste pursuing opportunities that don’t truly make you happy, and you can start moving forward along a path that brings you fulfillment and joy.
Find a mentor and be willing to ask for help – Nothing will make you grow more exponentially than continually learning from someone who excels in your field of interest. Find someone with a similar vision or skillset as you and embrace his or her knowledge. Soak up this knowledge and be more of a listener than a talker. You will be amazed by how these conversations can help you grow.
Be the small fish in the big pond vs. the big fish in the small pond – Let your ego go and always challenge yourself, even if that means not being the big fish for a period of time. This will allow you to stay in a constant state of growth.
Practice, practice, practice – You have to practice more than you think about practicing. Stop watching and talking about it and start doing. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great!” Stay laser-focused on the skill and let go of everything else.
Walk your own path – Be prepared for obstacles and challenges, but work your way through them with persistence. No matter what anyone tells you, trust your inner voice. This is where the mentors I talked about are beneficial. They will remind you of your dream and the fact that you can make it happen.
Anyone can get it — the hard part is keeping it – Don’t get complacent. The next person who is grinding and putting in the work will start to catch up, and you will no longer be the best. It’s easy to fall back into old habits or to get frustrated and backpedal into comfortable places that don’t stretch us. Don’t stop focusing on your new skills and your end goal.
Make it your job to be your best.
Accept and embrace change. Determine what makes your authentic self happy and work to turn that happiness into a career. Make it a routine to “show up,” be true to yourself, and consistently work through the discomfort. That is when you will get to that great place. Once you experience professional and personal alignment, you won’t ever want to go back.
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