“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”, said Dr Seuss. But for the majority of us, to define who we are on any given day is actually far more difficult than it sounds, particularly when it comes to our business and leadership selves.
Think about it. What would you say if you were asked to give an on the spot perception of who and what you stand for as a leader – or what you think you could stand for, given the opportunity? What do you feel your skills and strengths are as a corporate warrior or entrepreneurial whiz-kid?
Not so easy, is it? Because the gut reaction is to edit The Story of You. Homogenise, pasteurise, process – so that nobody knows about the messy bits and pieces which don’t really fit into the potential best-seller category we want our life to be seen as by others.
In other words, we carry around the equivalent of emotional baggage within a business setting. Whether it is an overnight duffel or a matching set of Louis Vuitton steamer trunks, the average person on an upward career trajectory is checking in with at least one piece of luggage at What’s My True Self Airlines.
Let’s face it, most airlines would prefer you only had carry-on baggage in the first place – so why try to understand and own all of the reality that makes up who you truly are? Well, because without this understanding, that Story of You?
It’s going to be pretty boring.
When I think about this, I always remember Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers, where he famously proposes that it takes 10,000 hours to truly master anything. If this is true – and I do believe in it – then how can we fit ourselves into a tiny carryall? How can we make our leadership ‘You’ a single story?
Whatever stage you are at in your career path, you need to embrace all of your business story. Your tale – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly – is here to be told. Your perceptions of yourself are as valid as those of your team, your colleagues, your superiors, and if you are truthful, then they have no right to judge you. The more you tell your story – whether internally or by sharing it with a mentor or sponsor, your tribe, or your circle of influence – the more you are able to learn about your unique gifts and strengths as a leader or potential leader. You may find at times that the baggage you are carrying gets fairly heavy as you admit to the areas of yourself you aren’t quite so keen on, or where you feel you need assistance. However – others will help carry it, if you just speak with bravery and give yourself – and them – the gift of the story of you.
You are Youer than You. And that You, if you choose to embrace your whole story so far, are a sparkling diamond of a tale. How do diamonds shine? They have a hell of a lot of facets.
And they have a very long journey from a lump of carbon to that final brilliance.
Imagine the baggage they must have to carry.