Have you ever listened to a motivational speaker? What messages have they left you? A common message I have found is that ‘you can be who ever you want to be!’. At first glance this seems to be a perfectly reasonable aspiration to have. Lets just reflect a little on the subtext of this message.
‘Whoever you want to be’ implies the capacity to adopt a new set of attitudes and behaviours consistent with unfamiliar activities, workplace roles or states of mind. As humans we are extraordinarily adaptable. There is no question of this, we do have the capacity to be able to learn new ways and remodel our thinking and behaviour. But, consider the notion of ‘preference’, what do you prefer in the way you gather information and make decisions? What do you prefer in the ways you like to relax? How do you prefer to structure your life, are you a free spirit or someone liking substantial order to what you do?
Given a choice we all have our preferred ways of being and acting. Think for a moment about doing things you are not good at or dislike. You have to concentrate far more, you probably will make more mistakes and your stress levels will rise accordingly. On the flip side, just as you have a favourite room in your house or the favourite piece of clothing you like to wear, activities that you prefer to spend time and naturally engage with, you get better outcomes and make fewer errors.
Non preferred tasks are simply not congruent with how we like to be and can create high levels of distress. For example, do you know someone who seems to find their work constantly troubling? This could well be an example of someone ‘trying to be who they are not’ and finding their life unfulfilling. As stated previously, we are incredibly adaptable to different environments, but if there is not a good fit between our underlying preferences and the life choices we make, there can be significant personal costs.
It is important to have role models and listen to inspiring people. It is critical to have support and advice from family and friends as you move through life. However, to have true fulfilment, shouldn’t the statement that ‘you can be who ever you want to be’ more accurately be described as ‘find out who you really are!’
If you have any thoughts or experiences please share them with me. I can then post these (maintaining confidentiality) on a future blog to start a conversation about the topic. This may start a valuable conversation amongst like minded people to help all of us do things better. email@example.com