“Be who you is ,
’cause if you be who you ain’t,
you ain’t who you is”
My sister Angela, wrote that quote across her bedroom wall as a teenager. Although that was many years ago, I never forgot it.
As improper as it sounds, to “be who you is”, is a profound statement. Most of us are constantly being told to change and be “who we ain’t”. We are rarely told to “be who we is”, often fighting our natural tendencies.
That statement made such an impact on me, I wrote it in my yearbook as my mantra and advice to the senior high school class. To my surprise, that statement became the mantra for my classmates as well.
Who I Is
Even equipped with my mantra, it still took me years to discover “who I was” in the corporate world. I went through phases of trying to be what I thought I should be, based on what types of behaviors I assumed would get me to the top. One of the styles I sought, was to be “Ms. Tough”.
I used to envy women who didn’t take any mess. They demanded respect and appeared to gain it. These “tough women” went through their careers not really caring about individual feelings. If you wanted to succeed on their team, you either got on board, or got out.
I on the other hand, I enjoyed dealing with people as individuals. Finding out what makes people tick always energized me. I never saw weaknesses in people, but just differences in styles, talents, and approaches. I believed that my role as a leader, was to bring out the best in everyone.
However, my approach was seldom rewarded in corporate. Many leaders tried to coach me into being more like “Ms. Tough”. They encouraged me to be harder on people and address their weaknesses instead of helping them to leverage their strengths. Although this approach was not working for me, I found it difficult to ignore the coaching of my superiors.
Soon, I found myself on a quest to become “Ms Tough.” I read every book on confidence, assertiveness, crucial conversations, etc. My mission was to trim my collaborative approach and adopt a more “stern” edge. I took on that mission with a vengeance.
Then one day it hit me! What about my mantra? “To be who I is”.
“Ms. Tough” is not who I is. Who I is, is someone who has a passion for people and learning to flex my approach to individual styles. This passion is my talent.
My quest to be “Ms. Tough” ended when I decided to stop fighting my natural tendencies and began implementing the mantra I swore to uphold back in high school. Changing me was no longer the focus. Finding the right fit for “who I is”, was.
Maybe changing “you” is not the answer, but finding a place where you can be “you”,..is.
I am a firm believer, that If you find a career that will allow you to “be who you is” you can’t go wrong. Research has proven that when you do what you are both good at and enjoy, you are not only more successful, you are happier. Most of us enjoy our jobs more when we can “be who we is”. If you are happier, you do a better job. Everyone wins.
Finding the right fit for who you are, is an important ingredient to ensure success in business. Often, we find ourselves in situations when who we are, is in direct conflict with where we are.
Whether it is a poor fit in our position, on a team, with a boss, or organization, we are faced with the choice of changing ourselves or changing our situation.
Staying in bad fit- situations too long, can be dangerous to your career. I have seen many women gain bad reputations when this occurs. As you know, once you obtain a bad reputation, it is difficult to restore it.
Today, I am happy to say, I am successful with my new name of “Ms Individualized Approach” . Like a warm and cozy blanket, I wear this name in a place where I can “be who I is” , successfully.
I like being who I is!!
Are you “being who you is”? Share your thoughts.
© Jocelyn Giangrande and Sisters Keeping it Real, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jocelyn Giangrande and Sisters Keeping it Real with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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