BE YOURSELF. Don’t BEat yourself up.

I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately with young, hungry, hardworking, passionate people who just “haven’t found what they’re looking for.” Whether they’ve been let go from a company because the role they found themselves in wasn’t a good fit, or they quit voluntarily because they were miserable, the common factor is this: everyone beats the shit out of themselves, no matter what their specific situation. 

I can relate to this because I’ve always been someone who put work ahead of everything else. For better or worse, I’ve always defined myself by the job I had and company I worked for.

It’s not bad to love what you do, be passionate about your company, and care about people you work with, so long as you don’t lose site of one key truth: YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO. 

Read that again, this way: I AM NOT WHAT I DO

again: I AM NOT WHAT I DO

again: I AM NOT WHAT I DO

again: I AM NOT WHAT I DO

“What’s with the dramatic effect, Liam?”

“Why are you making me repeat that, Liam?”

Because the MOST important lesson I’ve learned in the last year is that YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO.

Everyone wants to contribute and everyone wants to be “valuable.” There’s nothing wrong with that. But what’s the underlying motivation? Do you feel like you’re useless if people aren’t singing your praises? Do you feel like your worth as a human being diminishes if you don’t rack up a bunch of accolades? 

STOP.

YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO. 

Say it again. 

It’s really hard these days to separate who you are from what you do. We’re always connected. We’re always checking e-mail, slack, whatever. We’re always worried about “falling behind.” 

You know what? It’s okay.

It’s okay to not bsde firing on all cylinders all the time. It’s okay to not be obsessed with your company. It’s okay to put your friends, family, health, and life first. It’s okay to just BE YOU.

If your company doesn’t like it, you weren’t meant to work there. 

If your peers don’t like it, but you feel like you’re being true to yourself, they weren’t meant to be your peers. 

If ANYONE doesn’t like it, but you’re being true to yourself, to hell with everyone else. 

Now, this is not to suggest that you shouldn’t pay attention to your flaws and strive to improve upon them. It doesn’t mean you should ignore improving yourself. But what you SHOULD do is make sure you look at yourself as objectively as possible and try to be the person you want to be, which is sometimes different than the person you THINK you want to be. This year, I made the mistake of thinking that I “needed” to get back to the place I was at when I was 26. Truth is, I’m not 26 anymore. Truth is, I’ve seen some shit. I’ve learned a thing or two about business. Experience has taught me to temper my expectations somewhat, or at least, be more realistic about them. 

At the end of the day, the reason I’m writing this is because I see so many people beating the hell out of themselves for not being “good enough,” but not thinking about what “good enough” actually means. What defines “good enough?” What defines “surpassing expectations?” Who sets those parameters for you? 

You should set them for yourself. 

You should push yourself to live up to your own expectations. 

You should not let anyone derail you from your own objectives. 

You can only be as great as you expect yourself to be.

Make every day count. And if a day, week, month doesn’t work out the way you want it to, just remember: YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO. 

Try your best. Trust that life will work out. And if for whatever reason it doesn’t, it’s not a failure on your part. It’s a learning opportunity. Make it count. 

Godspeed.

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