If You Want to Succeed, Own Who You Are
You can’t be happy if you don’t have personal congruency
“A man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied doing wrong in any other department.” -Gandhi
As long as you act in ways that are incongruent with who you are, you’ll be miserable.
Unsuccessful people are always changing their mind. They think they know who they are and what their goals are. But in reality, these are constantly changing with whatever circumstance arises.
They don’t own who they are.
“Success isn’t one step in 20 directions. Success is 20 steps in one direction.” -Benjamin Hardy
Most people don’t really know who they are.
Most people can’t pinpoint their values and beliefs beyond vague assumptions.
“I think I’m committed to being a good spouse…” they might say. Are they?
“I’m pretty sure I’m not OK with this,” they frown to themselves. But they do nothing and go along with it.
“I know what I believe in,” they declare magnanimously. But put a few drinks in them and anything could happen.
Most people don’t have an intimate understanding of their values, principles, and beliefs. Nothing is concrete — identity is relative, and personality is malleable.
These people are a cocktail of identities they wish to be, think they are, and who they really are.
All of this is muddled with incongruent actions that directly contradict their “beliefs.”
How can you know who you are when it changes with even slightly difficult circumstances?
Due to this identity confusion, most people won’t ever experience true, lasting success and happiness. They have too many contradicting virtues and aspirations, often clashing with one another.
Like the man who chases two rabbits at once, these people will never finally achieve happiness and success. They’ll continue running with all their energy towards shifting goals and identities, never really finding rest.
This is a sad state to be in.
“Respect yourself. Don’t apologize. Stand up straight. Be independent. Don’t ape their clothes; wear the kind that fit your occupation and means.” -Frank Crane, The Business of Life
Unapologetically Commit to Your Values
Most people are waiting for an epiphany to save them.
They’re waiting for something huge to happen, to shake them and rattle them from their mediocrity into a new, better person. Or, they just want a quick-fix solution. Hence, the focus is on strategy and not on vision and values.
If you’re waiting for something to “wake you up” so you finally have the passion, motivation, or desire to put your whole soul into life, you’ll be waiting a long time.
Rather than waiting, your only chance at fully living is to proactively do something yourself.
This is done by finally drawing the lines you will not cross; committing unapologetically to your values.
But this is difficult. It comes at a high price.
It means saying “no” to almost everything. From now on, you won’t associate with certain people. It means you might rub some people the wrong way. It means no more people-pleasing.
Your values become final.
It means there are actions you must take in certain situations. It means denying yourself countless momentary pleasures to maintain your integrity.
Most people will never do this. Their values are “final”…until something comes up to change their mind in the moment.
In the words of Benjamin P. Hardy:
“If your life feels out-of-whack or off-balance, you’re likely avoiding the very thing you should be doing. Avoidance leads to business and distraction.”
Most people continue to live in the inner conflict of behaving contrary to their values. This always leads to more stress, anxiety, and pain.
It Will Never Be Easy to Start
It will never be convenient to be and live how you know you should.
If it was convenient, everyone would be living at a much higher level. There would be no internal conflict. Instead, most people are continuing to wait for someone or something outside of them to wake them up or pick them.
But this choice must be yours. There’s no big-enough house, attractive-enough partner, or high-paying-enough job to make you want to change yourself.
Your own enlightened self-interest must tell you this.
There is a short exercise known as the “Dickens Process” authored by Tony Robbins that is a helpful guide to this process, described by Tim Ferriss:
The exercise gets its name from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” in which Scrooge is visited by ghosts showing him his past, present, and future.
“In the Dickens Process, you’re forced to examine limiting beliefs — say, your top two or three handicapping beliefs — across each tense,” Ferriss wrote. “Then, take a look at each belief in depth and answer the following questions, as remembered by Ferriss:
“What has each belief cost you in the past, and what has it cost people you’ve loved in the past? What have you lost because of this belief? See it, hear it, feel it.”
“What is each costing you and people you care about in the present? See it, hear it, feel it.”
“What will each cost you and people you care about one, three, five, and 10 years from now? See it, hear it, feel it.”
What are your beliefs now?
Are they good enough? Do you really believe in them? Are they encouraging, uplifting, and something you can unapologetically commit to?
Or do they simply limit you in their ambiguity?
“There is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself.” -Gandhi
Happiness = aligned values and behavior.
Most people’s actions contradict what they believe in. They imagine themselves as honest, hard-working people of integrity and clarity of vision.
But their laziness, dishonesty, and avoiding responsibility directly contradict this belief system.
Most of an individual’s unhappiness stems from failing to act in alignment with their values.
Do you want to feel powerful and good about yourself? Do you want, to quote Alexander Dumas from The Three Musketeers, to “sleep the sleep of the brave,” resting in the knowledge you and your actions are in sync?
Then unapologetically commit to your values.
Act in alignment with them.
No apologies, no excuses.
No one and nothing is important enough to make you act in a way you don’t think is right.
Make the choice.
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