A Harvard Business Review article summarized its advice to leaders as follows: Be Yourself With More Skill. That’s not just good guidance for leaders. It’s something I believe everybody should aspire to. It’s my personal and professional passion. And it’s the vision of this blog that you will be inspired to do just that.
I’ve tried to be more skillful at lots of things: to be more skillful at my interests; to be more skillful in the various roles I fill; to be more skillful in the expectations others have of me. So at various times I have tried to be a more skilled basketball player; a more skilled business executive; a more skilled spouse and parent. You, like me, have no doubt tried to be more skillful at a number of good and challenging things. But there is nothing so crucial, so vital and so necessary as being yourself with more skill.
Borrowing concepts from German psychoanalyst Karen Horney, to be yourself with more skill means two things – Confirm and Capitalize. To confirm yourself means to have an accurate view of yourself by validating one’s own strengths, thoughts, desires and interests. And then, one must capitalize on one’s strengths and interests by finding ways to use them to your advantage and for the well being of others in your sphere of influence.
To be yourself with more skill means to confidently express your gifts and capabilities, to be in touch with your own feelings, thoughts and emotions, and grow in your ability to do so.
It is all too easy to want to “be” the goals we set, the roles we accept or the expectations others have for us. Some of those goals, roles and expectations are satisfying. But life has its greatest meaning and purpose when we decide the most significant thing we can ever do is to grow in our ability be our self. It is then that we will approach all of our roles and relationships with great passion, great energy and great enthusiasm.
How much more rewarding would your life be if you spent more time taking advantage of your capabilities and interests and less time doing things where you are disinterested and less productive. How much more satisfying would your professional and personal relationships be if you manage – and not ignore – your thoughts, feelings and emotions in ways that have positive impact on others?
The list of things I want to get better at is very long. Some are more important than others and some I will never get around to. But at the top of the list and the one thing I will constantly be working on is getting better at being myself.
And to you, I offer the same advice: Be Yourself With More Skill.