In striving to achieve greater success or to become a better leader, employee, parent, spouse, etc., we often leverage a number of resources. We might read books and articles, seek trusted advice from mentors, or attempt to imitate highly successful people whom we admire.
These are all great strategies, but in our pursuit of greater success we must be careful not to lose our authenticity. In our effort to improve ourselves, we might start changing our behaviors to mirror those of a mentor, or try to follow a list of prescribed actions we read in a book. But instead of discovering the magic formula for excellence in a particular area, we can end up looking inauthentic, like we’re trying to be something we’re not.
A key element of successful self-development is staying true to yourself and to your unique personality, talents, and strengths. While there are obvious benefits to emulating highly successful people, one must remember there’s no such thing as a prepackaged leadership kit or magic formula; you can’t borrow someone else’s excellence, you have to develop it yourself.
This is why I believe in focusing on improving and leveraging your strengths instead of fixating on your weaknesses. Channeling your energy and attention into areas where you are weakest is ineffective at best, and most likely will cause you to come across as inauthentic. So instead of awkwardly attempting to wield traits that don’t come naturally to you, identify areas in which you are already strong, and build upon those. Not only will you be more authentic, you’ll very often find that as you improve in those areas of strength, your areas of weakness will naturally begin to diminish or become irrelevant.
So, as Judy Garland once said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”