Today, I’m speaking at a STEM and women panel at IUPUI….I’m certain it will be fun and I’ll learn a lot.
They sent us questions to think about prior to the panel lunch discussion today. I’ve been noodling on them. One was the following:
“How do you maintain or become your authentic self?”
I think this is the hardest question in the stack. And I’ve been pondering it, and will continue to do so. Here are my initial thoughts on this:
1. Listen to your gut – Oprah calls this a whisper at first, then a brick over the head if you continue to ignore it. This is also something I’ve gotten better at doing over time, but earlier in my life, not so much. You get pressure all the time from outside forces to be something. To be better. To be perfect. And, I recently read that the more competent you are at work, the more work expects of you – it’s like a hedonic treadmill.
So, ignore all that outside garbage, and listen to your gut. The answers aren’t out there. They’re inside you.
2. Watch and learn how other people overcame the struggle – Note I’m not saying copy what others did exactly to overcome their struggles. Instead, check out their approach to overcoming their struggles. Do you see commonalities? Do you see patterns? If you can, can you apply those patterns to your own struggles to overcome them and become 100% you?
3. Pick your battles – You’re not always going to win in life. Know when it is time to lay down the sword. Also, it’s great to know when you really do need to pick that sword up and slay some dragons. It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission at times too. I’m not saying go out and be reckless and d*mn the torpedoes, but I am saying you need to know when it’s time to fight, or flight.
4. Pick yourself – Nothing drives me crazier than leadership programs that make you seek permission from someone else to be “selected” to join. I actually am starting to move away from them at this point in my life, because I’m going to go ahead and choose myself. I’ll choose the programs that best fit me, and I’m going to stop seeking permission from others to select what I should and shouldn’t do, especially in terms of my career and life skills development. Seth Godin is big on this. (Still pumped about #altMBA too.)
5. Find support – Birds of a feather really do flock together. If you’re thinking that you are firmly passionate about birds, for example, find some other ornithologists to hang out with, study, and share information. (Why I chose that example, I know not.) But hopefully you get the point. Once you’ve found one of your passions, that’s really part of who your authentic self is – so get around others that share your passion. That just brings more of the authentic you.
6. Realize this is a life-long process – I’m happy and sad to report that you’ll never be done with discovering the 100% most authentic amazing version of yourself that you can be. It’s not something you check off your to-do list. It’s a life-long process, and one that is a journey of discovery. You never get off the map. I just try and check in with my gut from #1 above every now and then to ensure I’m still in the right section of the map.
There. I think that’s the best I’ve got around this very hard question. And hey, I’m still trying to figure out what 100% Erin Albert looks like. Maybe I’ll get it figured out one of these days….