It is never inappropriate to be who you are.
I rarely speak in such absolutes, but when it comes to the appropriateness of you being you, I’d shout from the rooftops if that would help you hear me.
This doesn’t mean you’ll never feel like you need to be someone you’re not. There will be people or situations that hit a button and boom! you’ll be convinced it’s necessary to be someone other than yourself.
That’s what happened to my client Kim, when she was promoted to senior vice-president of marketing.
Fifteen minutes into our first coaching session, she said, “I feel like I have to be Randy in a dress.”
In her grounded and logical moments, Kim knew her success didn’t depend on becoming Randy. If the company wanted a Randy clone, they’d have found a Randy clone.
Deep down, she knew she’d been promoted on the basis of her strengths and leadership style … because of who she is, not in spite of who she is.
Yet once she stepped into her new role, she began questioning whether the very traits that had made her successful were still appropriate. And that led to squashing her gifts, trying to be Randy in a dress, and a boatload of stress.
Plus, it wasn’t working. And that’s because …
It’s never inappropriate to be who you are. (Imagine me on the rooftop.)
It’s so easy to forget this.
It’s not unusual to get caught up in thinking you have to be someone you’re not in order to be successful, have an impact, achieve a particular goal, or any of the other things we worry about. My clients are smart, talented, amazing, successful, unique people, yet some version of this comes up with almost every one of them.
But it’s not true. In fact, what’s true is just the opposite.
You do your best work, have your greatest impact, are happiest, and are at your most extraordinary when you’re the best version of YOU.
It’s absolutely worth doing the work to become the best version of you, to become more of who you are. Not like your boss or your best friend or Mary down the hall. And definitely not some super-human version of yourself where all your flaws have magically disappeared along with the essence of what makes you, you.
Becoming that best version of you might feel scary or daunting (it certainly did for me), but I guarantee it’s a hundred times easier and less stressful than trying to be someone you’re not.
Cultivate the courage to keep working on being your best you, even when that feels uncomfortable or scary. Yes, courage. Because showing up as you, is often a bold move.
Practice self-care, because we’re always hardest on ourselves when we’re tired, hungry, or stressed.
Be kind, compassionate and loving to yourself, because the more self-accepting you are, the more comfortable you’ll be showing up as your amazing self.
Grant yourself permission to be human. You’ll be brilliant and messy and fabulous and imperfect. Some days you’ll make glorious progress and other days will feel like a series of sideways or even backwards steps.
It’s all good, because it’s all learning and growth. And that’s what being human is about.
Most of all, don’t apologize for who you are. You can apologize for your mistakes, your words, your behavior, and the red wine you spilled on your friend’s gorgeous new blouse. Just don’t apologize for who you are.
Because it’s never inappropriate to be who you are.
“Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire.” ~ St. Catherine of Sienna