The tagline of my blog is “Embrace who you are, connect with courage, transform your world.” And there is a reason for that.
Embrace Who You Are
Only when we truly embrace who we are, can we bring our true selves and our greatest gifts to the table. And only then can we deeply connect with others and transform how we interact.
Sometimes that takes a lot of courage. It sure does for me. I am an incredibly creative and curious person. I have my very unique way of doing things and of relating to the world. And that is challenging in a society that loves to put rigid rules around everything creative.
Those cultural messages can sink deep into your own thinking, take roots there and block creation and innovation from the inside. It requires continuous practice to allow curiosity and exploration to take over.
There Is No Finish Line
We are not only WHO we need to be. We are also WHERE we need to be. If you are anything like me, you love challenges and growing as a person. I personally want to become incredibly good at learning, connecting and teaching. I am practicing these three things in my life and I am also learning from great teachers.
To see how good it can be and to see where I am, can be frustrating. I am sure you can relate to that. The most natural thing for us is to wish to be there already. To have those skills right now. But this is actually a dangerous trap that can put our growth to a halt.
There is no destination that we can get to where everything will just be easy and nice. There is no magic finish line. Growth is a continuous process that never stops unless we do. Everyone can always improve, no matter how advanced the level.
What It Is Like To Embrace Where You are
The place where we should be is neither in the past where we might have messed up, nor an imaginary future where everything will be perfect. The only place where we can contribute, learn and grow is where we are at right now. And this is a very vulnerable place.
Let me give you three specific examples from my own life:
- In the past I have tried to study a language before speaking it. This was a very ineffective strategy. Just recently, I have turned my strategy around. I am having conversations right from the beginning at the level I am at. It feels very vulnerable, because I am constantly making mistakes. And it is totally worth it: I am making progress at a speed that I did not think was possible.
- Every blog post I write includes hand-drawn images. To be honest, they are not up to my aesthetic standards yet. I post them anyway, because visual explanations are 10x more effective than words, and I know that my drawings will become better with practice.
- Just this week I have read the book “The Loyalist Team”. As I read the book, it became obvious to me that the teams I am either a part in or lead, are not operating at the highest level and that I have a part in that outcome. It was painful to realize and made me cringe. It also gives me the chance to improve.
What Do We Gain If We Embrace Where We Are?
- Clarity: We increase the clarity of our understanding of where we truly are at.
- Vulnerability: It allows us to have a close look at the things that are difficult, go into the challenging conversations and make the important decisions.
- Growth Mindset: We appreciate the progress we made in the past and view growth as a life-long journey.
- Sustainable Action: We take clear steps that we can go.
- Realizing Positive Change: As we have a clear picture of where we are at and go into the vulnerable places we open our minds to growth opportunities, choose adequate next steps and realize positive change.
What Do We Risk If We Resist Where We Are?
- Loosing Touch With Reality: It can keep us from having a realistic look at at where we are. We see things as worse or better as they are and we miss important details.
- Avoidance of Conflict: We avoid the tough conversations that we need to have and the tough decisions that we need to make.
- Fixed Mindset: Black-and-White-Thinking. We are either there or not.
- Misguidance: We take steps that are out of tune where we really are at. We take steps that are too small, too far ahead, or in the wrong direction. We might try to skip important steps and look for shortcuts instead of going the vulnerable and fruitful way.
- Missing Out on Growth Opportunities: Because there is no clarity of where we are and no openness for a vulnerable growth process, the best growth opportunities are missed.
How Can We Cultivate A Life Where We Embrace Where We Are?
I guess we need three things:
- Curiosity and Exploration. I think every change starts with curiosity and exploration. Curiosity allows us to lean towards things that we might otherwise avoid.
- Trust in Our Ability to Adapt and Grow. The basic premise is to know that our past does not equal our future. We need to see evidence in our own life that we can grow and adapt to change. Sometimes it is necessary to start with really little things to build up that belief. Then we can tackle bigger things.
- Acceptance of the Human Condition: The more we can accept that we are humans who live, try, fail and learn, the more we are willing to do things that might seem a little uncomfortable and that we do not feel quite ready for.
Growth Is Natural But Not Automatic
Close to where I live, there is an area that had been used by the US Army for more than half a century. It has gradually been given up over the last years. I have never been in that area, but I recently I became really curious and went for an extended walk.
I was surprised what I discovered. This huge area is in a process of major transformation. Some old buildings have been re-purposed, many buildings have been torn down. New industrial buildings and broad roads have been built or are being built. Some areas just look very deserted, everything is still there, it is like people just left to never come back again.
And then it struck me. Aren’t we just like that? Aren’t we in a constant process of rebuilding? Don’t we all have places in our live, that look deserted? And parts of our life that we re-purpose and others where we are building completely new things?
Great growth is not automatic, we have to be intentional. What it is in your heart of hearts that you want to do? Allow yourself to dream as if you could choose to do anything with your life. And at the same time acknowledge and appreciate where you are right now. What you perceive as ruins might just be the building blocks for a new adventure. You are right where you need to be.
What Are You Going To Do?
One last thought from Brendon Burchard before we finish up that post: “Common knowledge is not always common practice.” So, learn a little, use it a lot.
What did you get from this article? Let me know in the comments below.