Happy to be stuck with you
This may sound strange but until his latter years, Elvis Presley was very good at being Elvis Presley; Alan Sugar is very good at being Sir Alan Sugar and Dolly Parton is extremely good at being Dolly Parton. Unfortunately, not enough people are good at being themselves. Too many people put on false fronts because they worry about what others think of them. They will change who they are depending on whom they are with – there is almost an alter ego they assume in order to fit in; they’re not authentic and are therefore incongruent with who they truly are.
Social media is a great example of this. People will post their highlights – their glossy filtered photos, their professional highs, the amazing testimonials for their business, descriptions of their amazing Lockdown goals, their awesome relationship. Scratch the surface though and you find it took 20 photos to get the kids to look happy, then six tries to get the right filter to give it that sun-kissed look; rarely do people talk about the struggle their business has been through – they want to look a success so that potential clients will flock to them, no one will tell you about the nightmare client relationship that leads to tears and gin; or the frustrations, tantrums and days of feeling hopeless during Lockdown (this can apply to the adults and children!) – it’s just pictures of the fab art and science projects that have been done for home-schooling…
There’s so much ‘fake news’ on social media that it’s hard to find the diamonds in the rough. However, there will be those who tell it like it is – the good, the bad and the ugly and for me, they are the authentic souls who help those of us who feel like we’re not succeeding at #lifegoals, to feel human, to feel ‘normal’.
Playing a role
When you’re comfortable in your own skin, happy with who you are – with your decisions and choices in life, that’s when you are authentic. People who lack self-belief, or who feel they constantly have something to prove are the ones who feel they need to act in a different way, depending on who they are with. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we all might amplify certain characteristics – to maybe impress, or to be the comedian but on the whole, if you have self-belief and self-worth, you do not need to act any differently than the authentic you.
Maybe you adopt the role of the quiet one in the friendship group – happy to let more dominant characters take the lead, yet that same quiet person, feels much more self-assured when with family and is therefore more chatty. It can happen vice versa. Maybe you are the youngest in your family and that thus, are always seen and treated as the ‘baby’ – even though you’re an adult now. Perhaps your opinion is overlooked as your parents defer to your older siblings for opinions and decisions. Yet with colleagues, you are a completely different person – confident, happy to take the lead, the planner, the organiser – maybe you often wish your family can see you in this light so that they’d stop treating you the way you do.
Are you the joker at work? Maybe you play up to this role – happy to oblige when the mood needs lifting but by the same token, perhaps are not taken seriously when high level decisions need to be made.
We sometimes play a role that is assigned to us by others, or maybe one that we’ve forged for ourselves and but without realising that over time, it’s not serving us well. It almost seems as if that is us, then, now and forever – it becomes part of who we are, and we neither question or challenge it. As 95% of what we do day in day out is habitual, it’s no surprise that the way we think and behave becomes the norm and we never really think to stop, use the powerful gift we have, of introspection. We keep on keeping on unless we make the effort to drag those subconscious thoughts to conscious gaze.
In the workplace, great business leaders have no trouble being themselves – they have got to where they are because they are comfortable in their own skin; they are in touch with their values and their behaviours evidence this. They are genuine – authentic and we at The Winning Edge say that they are a Congruent Chameleon. This means there is no dumbing down or social climbing according to who they are interacting with - they are altering their communication on a subconscious level which is neither patronising nor condescending because their behaviour is modified at a subconscious level by the deep respect they have for those they are leading.
The CEO of a multi-national retailer whom we have worked with, was a great example of a Congruent Chameleon. Whomever he spoke to - personnel on the shop floor, middle management, or board directors - his communication modified slightly but was always genuine. In return, there was great respect for him as it was evident his motives were always for the good of the organisation and those working within it. He sought common goals and was always ready to listen – another attribute of an effective leader.
In the past three months, I think we’ve all learning a lot about ourselves – the good and the maybe not so good. It’s so important for your mental health to love who you are, to celebrate your individual qualities and to be you, with whomever you are with. In my opinion, Dolly Parton epitomises authenticity. She celebrates who she is. She has never shied away from the fact she’s had plastic surgery, she’s comfortable with her wealth, yet doesn’t flaunt it. She has acute business acumen but almost plays on the dumb blonde image because that’s how much it bothers her what people think. Dolly is not only a singer but also a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actress, author and of course, businesswoman. Yet so many see her as the petite blonde, with outlandish wigs and costumes and an ample bosom. But she is so much more than that but doesn’t care who or if anyone knows, as is shown in the fabulous interview with Barbara Walters in 1977. I urge you to watch it – at the very least from 2:34 to 4:03 where Dolly just about sums up the importance of being secure with you and your self-image.
If you feel you’re playing a role that isn’t true to who you are, and that you find you’re being a different you, depending on who you’re with, think about why that is. Where does it stem from? Recognise this and process it. Know that you can reframe all of this because you are the only one allowing it to be perpetuated. Think about how you have interpreted all past opinions and views of yourself and realise they are other people’s ‘truths’ – their versions of who they think you are. And your thoughts about you are just that – thoughts. They are not necessarily facts. You get to write your script going forward. Know that you can be who you want to be and do what you want to do, and most importantly, that you’re worthy if it. You’re worthy of being heard. Your voice counts.
Improve your self-talk – the way you describe yourself to you and to others. Use daily powerful assumptive affirmations to improve your self-belief and visualise – Be. Do. Have.
I love the quote by Dolly Parton: "Find out who you are and do it on purpose." Amen to that.
Be you and do it well.
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