Age 10: “You’re stupid.” – said my fourth grade PE teacher.
Age 35: Graduated in the top half in my MBA program.
Age 18: “You’re small and slow.” – said my College Defensive Coach.
Four Weeks Later: Earned a starting position as a 5’11” 200 pound defensive lineman
Age 24: “You’re too loud and animated to be taken seriously.”
Age 41: Lucrative side career as a professional speaker
Age 38: “You’re not like everyone else. That will hurt you.” – said my manager.
Age 41: Attained a VP position with the Coca-Cola Company. The promotion came largely as the result of thinking differently than everyone else (not being like them).
Let No One Define You
Have you lived a life of others trying to define you? Trying to put you in the “box” they see you in based on THEIR definition of what is correct and acceptable?
Here’s the thing: You are not obligated to allow any person, no matter who they are, to define you.
This is the essence of what playing offense is all about. Living life and building a career on your terms, not what others say you should be.
Always stay focused on the following principles to build a successful life and/or business based on the greatness that is uniquely you.
Play To Your Strengths
There are a lot of “gurus” out there that will tell you the key to success is eliminating your weaknesses. i can’t think of more damaging advice.
No matter how hard you work on your weaknesses, they will never bring you the same level of success your strengths will.
Embrace what your naturally good at and turn it in to an overwhelming competitive advantage. In my case, it was taking advantage of the fact that I’m inherently loud and developing my speaking abilities.
Being loud, my natural hand motions and my love of being in front of others allowed me to distinguish myself as an engaging professional speaker.
Swim In The Right Pond
Sometimes, in order to be yourself and thrive, you need to find a new environment. I spent the first part of my career in the oil and gas industry where being around engineers caused me to be the proverbial square peg in a round hole. Great people, but I just didn’t fit in.
I found a new home in the consumer goods industry where I achieved more success in two years than I had in ten at my previous employer. I didn’t change, my environment did.
Seek places that appreciate your unique personality and talents
Whether in business or relationships, people value those that make things better. Use your uniqueness to find ways to add value wherever you are.
It’s a funny sequence-the more value you bring, the more successful you are, the more successful you are, people go from trying to define you to trying to be more like you.
As I like to say: before you’re successful you have “personality issues”. After you’re successful you are “endearing”.
Never Give Up On Yourself
Trust me, I understand. I spent 35 years dealing with people trying to define me based on their standards. In fact, I ended up marrying the only person who accepted me for who I was. However, I always stayed true to who I was, followed the tips outlined above and have experienced more happiness and success than most of the people I know that tried to change me.
God gave you a unique set of talents and skills for a reason. Don’t shy away from them, embrace them and do amazing things.
Let no one define you.