In a World of Outside Influence, Be Yourself
By Maggie Frye, Founder & Principal Consultant at Core Consulting Group
This is the second installment of a three-part series titled “In a world of.” To read the first installment, click here.
It starts with a very intimate relationship with yourself. What are your core values? What brings you fulfillment? What are your triggers? What are your strengths? What are your physiological ebbs and flows throughout the day? What’s your spirit animal? OK – really only added that last one for laughs.
In all seriousness, your answers to these questions help you cut through the noise and just be yourself. Let me give you an example. My body requires 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If I don’t get it, I get headaches and become useless to the world. A close friend of mine functions very well on 5-6 hours with zero negative health defects. And I’m pretty certain my husband requires 10. I don’t let their routines influence me and my decisions. I prioritize my time and commitments around my need for 7-8 hours of sleep.
There’s rarely a black and white answer to life. This is where knowing yourself comes into play.
Trust Your Gut
Once you know yourself, you must make a commitment to listen to yourself. One of my all-time favorite authors and leadership gurus is Robert Greenleaf, originator of the servant leadership philosophy. In his essay, Servant as Leader, Greenleaf writes, “Intuition is a feel for patterns, the ability to generalize based on what has happened previously. Wise leaders know when to bet on these intuitive leads, but they always know that they are betting on percentages. Their hunches are not seen as eternal truths.”
Listen to yourself. What feels right? What doesn’t? And like Greenleaf said, find comfort in the fact that intuition is built by experiences and lessons learned. It’s not hocus pocus.
A very recent example of this for myself was a decision I had to make between a family commitment and a work commitment (happens all the time, right?!). In this instance, I had an outside influence persuading me somewhat heavily to choose the work commitment. But that path just didn’t feel right to me. I struggled with my decision for about 4 days until finally I realized that if I’m this torn, clearly my instincts are trying to tell me something. Once I had this “aha” moment, I made the decision and felt great about it. Zero guilt.
Bring About Necessary Endings
At the 2013 Leadercast event, Dr. Henry Cloud spoke about the key themes in his book Necessary Endings. He shared that, “The tomorrow you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things you are doing today.” Dr. Cloud equated the process of bringing about “necessary endings” to that of pruning a shrub. It’s the best buds that need the resources of the vine. These resources will be scarce if they are being spent on sick or plateaued branches.
What do you need to prune? What baggage do you carry around that came to you via way of outside influence, but that you really don’t need or want to be a part of your life? Perhaps it’s those 300 holiday cards you send. Or the 10 boards and committees you sit on. Or your pursuit of a social network that brings status versus friendships. Stop keeping up with the Jones’ and instead re-focus on your values and priorities.
Be yourself. Own and relish the uniqueness and gifts that are only yours; for that’s why you’re here.