To learn how to be me I had to first be someone else. Several someone else’s in fact!
Before I became self-employed I worked many different jobs. Too many to count! None of these jobs lasted because of who I had to be while I was working at them. I had to pretend to be someone else. After awhile it was too uncomfortable to keep acting like someone else, so that was when I changed things. Here’s how the change started…
14 years ago, I was a TV News Writer. It was the last job I held. One day when I showed up for work my producer gave me my assigned stories for the newscast as usual. As I sat down to start writing I noticed one of my assigned stories was titled ‘Fatal Pee’. It was in the kicker slot which means a lighthearted, funny story to end the broadcast.
How could a title with the word ‘Fatal’ in it be a kicker?
I read on and realized it was about a woman who had died when she pulled over to relieve herself on a long drive. She squatted a little too close to an embankment and fell over, to her death. I wrote the story with a somber tone and my producer immediately reprimanded me.
“You may not have noticed but this is the kicker.” He said.
“Yes, I realized that.” I said.
“But you wrote it sad. It can’t be sad.”
“I think it is sad. She left behind two children and a husband. Now those children have no mother and that man will never see his wife again.”
“I don’t care. I want you to write it funny. It’s the kicker. That’s your assignment. Do you understand?” He said.
What I understood at that moment was that I was in the wrong job with the wrong people. I wrote the story like my producer wanted, but it was painful. Too painful!
Later that evening, I reflected back on all the times throughout my life when I was also in the wrong place with the wrong people, playing the wrong role. I thought of all the times I pretended to be someone I was not…someone who cared less than I actually did…someone who perceived less or imagined less or needed less than I actually did. Someone who had different values and different interests than I actually did. I asked myself when would I start to be me? And, who is me anyway?
Luckily, that was when I met my first coach Tanya Courtney. She was a great coach because she got me to immediately take action…being me. She talked about finding what I love to spend my day doing, and who I am while I am doing that. She said finding out what I love to do and who I am can only happen by doing that and being me. She said through taking action steps you can begin to craft a career or business out of those puzzle pieces you discover. You create your lifestyle, your role, and let your career or business grow out of that.
At first I was shocked at this method. I always thought you had to have the end figured out before you began anything and you had to know where the path went before you started.
But since I didn’t know the path or what the end would look like I had been hesitant to start something new. I now realize most people are like this. In a business or trade school students are not taught to examine what lifestyle they want or who they want to be while doing their career. This is probably why so many businesses fail and so many are unhappy in their career. If you can’t be you while you do your work, it is simply not sustainable…meaning it won’t last…and it is not likely to make you happy.
Now what I love most about my business is that I get to be me and I get to help you be you. I feel successful because of this, but I had to learn to allow myself to feel this success. When I worked at the news station and prior to that, I had unexamined beliefs that prevented me from finding happiness in a career. It turned out those beliefs were false. When it became too painful to be guided by those beliefs I was willing to examine them and throw them out when they didn’t serve me. But that prompts the question, where do these beliefs come from?
In “Dr. Seuss and Philosophy” the author describes the process of letting false, unexamined beliefs ruin our chance of fulfillment and blames it on the homogenization process in society. If we are taught to think what everyone thinks, we will have the same thoughts of what is successful that we think we are supposed to have. But if we do that, we are probably wrong, and unhappy!
Success means different things for different people. Just like happiness means different things for different people. One mainstream belief about happiness is that it comes from wealth and marriage. But for someone who values service and freedom, that belief (if unexamined) will not lead to happiness.
Take for example a coaching client, Nicole Smith. We met two and a half years ago when I lead a talk on how to pursue what lights you up. At the time we met, she was committed to having a full time job. After undergoing the process of repeated experiments and projects that challenged her beliefs about who she is and how she should live her life, she is now self-employed with a full client load for her web design business.
What is important is to look at her lifestyle now compared to her lifestyle 2 ½ years ago. Now, she sleeps in, spends her days working in coffee shops and taking breaks to walk outdoors and she spends her evenings and weekends with fun activities like hosting house concerts and performing in an improv comedy class. “I used to resist taking action when the outcome was not sure…but once I got into the habit of doing that and letting go of the idea that everything has to be perfect before I can do anything then I started making really incredible changes. I realize now that it’s only in taking action that new things can be created. Now I know I need to stay fluid…stay in action…to be happy and successful!”
Nicole is living her life as her…and as she becomes more confident about her path and the people she attracts by beingherself, the more successful her business becomes.
Don’t you deserve to be more you?