When I landed my first job out of college, I didn’t know how to navigate my career.
I was utterly clueless about making the transition from academic life as a 20-something to the throws of corporate America. The hardest part for me as a working professional and ultimately, executive, was how to navigate it all and stay true to who I was. Striving for success often led me to being someone that I wasn’t - I thought I had to fit a certain mold in order to advance or be seen as talented.
It wasn’t until I had a mentor that gave me the best advice and coaching I’ve ever received: “Just be you.” Seems pretty simple right? In hindsight, those words changed my life and I am so grateful for those wise words from my mentor. Here is what I learned:
Seek to understand yourself first and foremost. What are my values? What do I believe in? How do I want to be seen by others? How do I want to live my life? I learned that I struggled to be myself because I didn’t know myself! Ask yourself the tough questions and answer honestly.
Commit every day to authenticity. Start your day with your plan for the day and think through how you’re going to navigate it in a way that is authentic to who you are. Stop and reflect at the end of the day to ask yourself “was I myself today?”
It’s easiest to be you. It’s way harder to be someone else. When I tried to be someone I wasn’t because I thought I had to, it was hard. And the ironic part is when I did that, I actually performed worse because I wasn’t my natural self. It’s shockingly easy to just be yourself. And it’s easier to take feedback on your authentic self because you can make adjustments on the fringes versus wholesale changes to an inauthentic self that you’re faking!
After 15 years in the professional world, I can tell you that the lesson of just being me has enabled a successful and happier me. Once I shed the fallacy of being someone I wasn’t - a weight was lifted, and I thrived even more. I dare you to let go of any expectation that makes you think you need to be anything but yourself. I dare you.