“You Complete Me” messed up an entire generation of folks now running businesses. But I’m here to help.

Part of the Suffering ‘Jerry Maguire Generation’?

I was born in 1976. A fine year if you ask me.

Way back when, a gallon of gas was a mere 59¢. A Polaroid camera went for $28. And a little-train-that-would computer company, called Apple, was just forming.

Just last week I learned about new research that suggests I missed out on being coined a Xennial. The Xennial, representing those born between 1977–1983, is a pocket generation that grew up analog then learned to become digital with adulthood.

As per my birth year, I landed on the ledge as a Gen X’er. But I can’t say I totally feel like a Gen X’er — and I can’t imagine I’m alone.

Growing up, I was grateful to be a truly ‘cage free child’ who independently was able to ride my bike all over the neighborhood. On the flip, perhaps the supervision wasn’t there like it was before our time and, certainly, today.

Gen X has been described as a smaller subset sitting in between Boomers and Millennials. Add in this new ‘subset of a subset’ Xennial description and you start to have a slew of confused people potentially grasping for their identity.

Hence a theory I have called, ‘The Jerry Maguire Generation’.

Jerry Maguire was one of the most popular movies of my lifetime and it produced a handful of memorable lines my entire generation still remembers including:

1) Show Me The Money! We like this.

2) You had me at hello. This is a sweet one.

3) You complete me. Oh, no you didn’t, Jerry.

“You Complete Me”, as a saying, reverberated around the conscious brains of every bemused teenager and twenty-something back in the 90’s and I believe it is partially responsible for the way we went about finding a partner in life.

In laymen terms, “You Complete Me” screwed up my entire generation.

‘You Complete Me’ alludes to the idea that each of us must not be enough as we are. That some other person is needed to swoop in, filling a canyon-like void we each have, for the purposes of saving ourselves from ourselves.

Frankly, the line — whether it meant to or not — could make many feel a bit inadequate.

I believe there is no “You complete me.”

There is only “Me complete me.”

This raises the question about whether we as a people have total clarity of what we’re each made of. If you’re like most, then of course you have a pretty good idea of what matters to you. But I find that most people have not done the rigorous work to treat themselves like a business and run a true personal core values assessment. This is especially important if you’re trying to build your personal brand.

What do you truly value in yourself and in the people you choose to surround yourself with? Have you landed on personal core values you can rattle off if someone asks?

On a personal level, I have the following four prioritized core values:

1. Playfulness. I take my work seriously, but not myself seriously.

2. Creativity. It’s my magic! Specifically, when solving business problems.

3. Courage. I willingly take action off what I learn and my intuition.

4. Excellence. I aspire for greatness — and others in its pursuit.

Once we all put in the work to better know ourselves, only then are we capable of sharing our distinct selves with one another. Which leads us to the true intent of this blog post…

If you’ve made it this far, you might be thinking why on earth is this entry on Linkedin vs a blog produced by, per say, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday?

I believe that any current business leader, no matter the age of the company they’re running, needs to do a complete reassessment of their company’s core values. I would further suggest each leadership team edit, minimize and modernize their current company core values. Anything more than 4–5 and you run the risk of not being meaningful or memorable.

Core values help company’s decide where they should and shouldn’t spend their time. Businesses shouldn’t try to be all things to all people: rather, they should be all things to some people. This isn’t just when it comes to your customers — it pertains to the staff you hire or the vendors you partner with.

Companies should follow suit. Once we all put in the work to better know ourselves, only then are we capable of sharing our distinct selves with prospects and customers.

Personal Sidebar:

There’s absolutely no question that I’m better, and my life is better, because of my wife! That said, my wife and I do not complete each other. Rather, we complement one another. She complements me as much as I complement her. If we compromise too much, we both end up compromised.

Does your business have total clarity in what it stands for? Is it unapologetic in knowing whom it is and isn’t for? Just like people, if a business is always compromising, trying to cast too wide of a consumer-nabbing net, it will be compromised. This is why it’s critical to know, prioritize and fully live your values.

When you go through the “Me complete me” process, you’re also able to stay authentic to yourself, your staff and your business. And you can better weather the storms of doubters, naysayers and fake believers.

So…who’s coming with me?

Ryan is the creator of Courage Brands® and the author of soon-to-be-released ‘Return on Courage’. He is also the founder of courageous ideas company i.d.e.a. — a fully integrated creative agency based in San Diego. After a decade in New York, Ryan moved to California to write screenplays. Instead, he has been living one.