Be What You Know You Can Be

Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The other day I found myself just sitting, wishing there was more, that I was more.

I know others share this feeling. So many of us have this nagging belief that we have awesome-ness inside. Unfortunately, many of us also tell ourselves that we just can’t or don’t know how to get this awesome-ness out of us and into the world.

More and more, as I coach emerging leaders and others seeking their best self, I realize two things: that it takes effort and commitment on our part and it “takes a little help from our friends,” as Emerson reminds us in the quote above.

In spite of this truth, I regularly run right up to the gremlin that says “You can’t.” I know I am not alone. And I know that the gremlin is a liar.

Emerson is challenging us to be willing to be vulnerable, to seek wisdom and to believe in ourselves. But how?

Vulnerability = Be honest with yourself. Ask for feedback. Seek a mentor.

  • Be honest with yourself: Really, you have nothing at all that you like about yourself? Or are you just being modest…or blind – to the gifts, talents and knowledge that you possess and that you can grow. It is not being arrogant to recognize your strengths, it is knowing that what you are great at is needed in the world.
  • Ask for feedback: Consult with someone you trust to give you the honest truth – both the good and the not-so-good. What is it that you bring that is most valued – by your boss, the team, and the person you are consulting. Listen to their feedback and don’t judge or argue. Receive it as a gift that you can use.
  • Seek a mentor: A boss, a colleague, someone who has “been there, done that” or someone who comes from a fresh perspective. The point is to find someone who can give you feedback, help you solve problems, and celebrate what you bring to the table.

Wisdom = Listen. Learn from others. Try things.

  • Listen: Take time to really listen, without judgment. Whether you are in a team meeting, a 1/1, or in the lunch room. What are people talking about, what are they doing, how do they think about things? All of this information can shape your own thinking.
  • Learn from others: Be curious. What do the people around you know, think, or do? What is there impact? What could they teach you?
  • Try things: Give yourself time and the permission to mess things up in your quest for wisdom. With both failures and successes we gain insight and judgment.

Belief = Act as if it is so. Trust yourself and others.

  • Act as if it is so: Jean-Luc Picard, a character in the original Star Trek series popularized the naval phrase “make it so.” And what happened when he said it? People acted. Try putting a little Jean-Luc Picard direction in your life.
  • Trust Yourself and Others: The ability to do this, even when you are not as clear or confident in your own capabilities as you’d like to be, is essential to be your best self. You are creative, resourceful and whole. And expect the best from others, knowing that they too are able and just waiting to show what they can do.

While we don’t live in a fairy tale, where magic happens at the waving of a wand, there are many people around you who can teach, challenge, listen, support, trust, AND inspire you to be what you know you can be.

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