Can I Be Me?

Smile“Rather than struggling on a path of being ourselves, let us be on a quest to discover who we can become.”

Today’s post was inspired by the release of a documentary about the late Whitney Houston. Reportedly, the title, “Can I be Me?” was a question she often repeated to those in her inner circle. No doubt many of us have asked ourselves this same question; however, it may indicate some sort of inner struggle to live a life of being who we are supposed to be. Even social media is constantly barraging us with posts such as “don’t let others stop you from being you!”

It’s only natural to want to be “me” and we get upset at the times when we feel we are not. Others who are perceived as “being themselves” are admired and lauded for having the courage to do so. Fortunately, one of the benefits of being human is that we have the capacity to change future behaviors. However, I believe that “Can I be me?” is not the question we should be asking ourselves.

I recall driving with a good friend of mine and she asked me a question which I was not expecting. “Now that you are divorced”, she began, “do you feel more like yourself?”

Our friendship began while I was married and she saw me go through many struggles and helped me through some as well. Pausing briefly, I answered her with a question. “Are you the same person you were 5 years ago?”

“No”, she quickly answered.

“What about a year, six months, or a month ago; are you the same person?” Her answer didn’t change.

“We are constantly changing”, I reminded her, “So is ‘being who I am’ the question I should be asking myself?”

It is not so much a concern about “being me” but rather understanding who I am and also am becoming. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are ALWAYS “me”. Even at those times when we look back and said, “I should have been stronger”, we were still “me”.

The key is to learn from our mistakes and change future behavior.  Not by beating ourselves up but rather becoming aware of the hurt our actions caused so the next time a similar situation arises, we can choose to be that “me” we will admire. We will always be “me” but  that person is also constantly changing and growing. Start asking yourself who is the person you want to become and watch yourself soar.

Thank you and I look forward to your comments.

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The Need to be Right

BAR

Photo By Dave Chawla

“For those who must always be right, the greatest predicament in which they will find themselves is how will they know when they are not.”

Each time I write these posts, there is a distinct effort not to come across as an expert or authority on those views and concepts. Great care is taken to express thoughts which can and should be questioned as well as an invitation to make comments which will perhaps differ. If I am simply “preaching to the choir” then when will I ever be presented with opportunities to learn? I never want to have the feeling, or for that matter, come close to having a constant need to be right. If I ever have the point of view that I must or always am, then how will I ever know when I am not?

No one wants to be wrong; even the word “wrong” itself denotes a negative stigma with which none want to be associated. No person aspires to be incorrect whether it is a test in school or playing a simple game. We even grow up with the concept that there is either right or wrong and nothing in between. Simply saying the words, “I am wrong” can leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the one who is uttering it.

However, a constant need to be right, in truth, may actually be a exposing a lack of personal self-confidence. Although this may appear to be a contradictory conclusion, the pervasive feeling of needing to be right tells quite a different story. Being right in one’s own mind, conveys comfort and safety. But always needing to be right will conjure up a sense of dominance over others and feelings of superiority, culminating in arrogant conduct. Because the need is ever-present, it eventually leads to self-importance and narcissistic behaviors.

Fortunately, there have been many videos, memes, and other expressions of late all over social media, which talk about the benefits of making a mistake, substituting more positive words which point to opportunities and attaining greater heights by those learning experiences. Whether it is Michael Jordan listing how many shots he missed or Denzel Washington talking about flunking college, all of these “wrong” moments were turned into opportunities to become victorious.

There is nothing wrong with being wrong! Admitting to making a mistake has many positive qualities. It shows honesty, a sense of fairness, a willingness to learn, and much more. Typically, mistakes are not done on purpose so forgiving ourselves should not be an issue. Effective leadership does not demand a constant need to be right and a truly great leader at times will own up to the mistakes of his or her team when the blame should squarely be placed on another.

“Incorrect” should be taught as moving “in” the direction of being “correct”. Mistakes are now being designated as new learning opportunities. Stretching our limits and reaching greater heights is not something accomplished by sitting in a rocking chair. It involves work, determination, great amounts of effort and an understanding that with every attempt there is a possibility of failure. Fortunately, “failure” too, is now considered a learning opportunity. The only way we can grow is to get out of our comfort zone and by its own proclamation, we will be uncomfortable.

The next time you find yourself wrong about something, transform that moment into motivation for learning and growth. Embrace that time so it becomes a memory of discovery and wisdom. We can learn to change the way we think about difficult moments from our past which will also help us to heal from those memories as well.

As always, I look forward to your comments; even those which tell me I am wrong.

 

 

Measuring Inner Strength

 

Rocks edge

Photo By E. Rachel Thompson

“One reward for inner strength is the silent applause of a confident Soul!” – Anonymous

A huge benefit from doing a bit of research on this topic was finding some great quotes. There was not one answer attempted as to the author of last week’s quote (click here to read part one) so I’m hoping for at least one guess this time. However, there were some extremely well-stated remarks about inner strength and I wanted to thank everyone for them.

Measuring inner strength, at best, is nearly next to impossible. By its very nature, it is a quiet and unannounced behavior. At times we need it to develop our own goals and objectives but it’s also valuable when showing restraint from the troubling and challenging behavior of others.

The best and most reliable judge of our own inner strength is none other than ourselves. However, judging inner strength is not merely an exercise in self-assessment, it is also measuring the ability to see and appreciate our self-confidence. All too often, self-confidence is taught with a biased toward selfish behavior and thought of as egotistical. But self-confidence is the foundation on which inner strength is built so having more of one establishes more of the other. No doubt they are a measuring stick for one another.

It is also important to understand what inner strength is not. It does not impose on others any form of dominance or control. It does not have to be announced over the loud speakers or blared from a trumpet. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that if someone shows a need to toot his or her own horn about inner strength, that would in truth, be announcing more of a deficiency. We may be entertained by the loud and brash behavior;  however, we are in awe and stilled silence of those who quietly display their own inner strength.

Try it for yourself. See if there is a moment during the day when your inner strength is tested. Perhaps when someone else’s actions are pushing you to retaliate, this is the perfect time to increase it. Work hard to muster the courage and choose the appropriate actions. It is not easy and takes practice. But just as physical training takes a disciplined regiment of exercise, inner strength can take just as regimented an effort. The more we work at it and take positive steps toward improving it,  the more it shows up in our lives. If each and everyone of us were to take enormous steps towards increasing our inner strength, imagine what a better world we would soon see around us.

Thanks again to E. Rachel Thompson for the beautiful picture. Find out more about her on LinkedIn by clicking here. I am looking forward to your comments and thoughts about the quote.

 

 

 

A Measure of Strength

 

Breakthrough

Photo By E. Rachel Thompson

“From all the ways which Strength can be displayed, I choose from within” – Author Unknown”

Strength is a quality we constantly seek for ourselves and admire very much in others. It is continually regarded as a positive trait so its pursuit is never suspect nor questioned. In fact, it is so well regarded that we figure out ways to measure it and reward those who mightily display it.

One of the most coveted ways in which these awards are pursued is in the world of sports. Whether it be an individual endeavor or a group of determined yet single-minded people, modern culture is fascinated and fanatical about these displays of dedicated prowess.  We award those who can jump the farthest, highest, and longest as well as run the fastest at various distances. It becomes even more enthralling when several people work together as one; demonstrating how hard work, dedication, and the highest levels of self-discipline culminate in a glorious victory.

But why is so much attention paid to these displays of physical strength? Many top athletes are honored and revered by enthusiasts around the globe. Perhaps it was a one-time goal or something which permeated our own dreams and aspirations, giving us a small glimpse of what it takes to achieve these kinds of feats.

By no means is this an attempt to belittle or minimize the dedication required for these accomplishments but is it possible that by giving too much credence to it that it spills over and affects our daily lives and interactions with others?  Does it provide a negative incentive to be harsh or coarse with others believing that we are simply being “strong”?  Having the “guts” to speak one’s mind may be showing ourselves that we are strong but in many cases one’s opinion is not a determination of fact. “I call it like I see it” doesn’t mean that everyone who sees it differently from you is wrong. Admiration is often shown to those who exhibit such behavior but perhaps what they are truly displaying is more akin to a measure of arrogance.

Descriptions of leadership qualities include listening more than talking and being a good listener can often be a most difficult task. It requires discretion, wisdom, and a desire to work out the best solution and not simply one which insures and benefits us. As the opening quote suggests, inner strength can be a far greater indicator than any pretentious tirade no matter who is originating the outburst.

In the comments below, please provide personal instances where either you observed or were the executor of showing inner strength. The next post will take a closer look at how we can successfully measure our own inner strength. Also, if you can find the author of the opening quote, it may be worth a prize.

Once again my thanks to E. Rachel Thompson for the beautiful photography (find out more by clicking here) and I look forward to your comments.