Authenticity & Awesomeness: The Self-improvement Myth
Whatever you call it; personal development, self-help, self-improvement, it’s a massive business and a billion dollar industry.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brene Brown
Whether we’re focusing on career progression, physical health and appearance, mental resilience or simply being the best we can be in daily life the same point is implied – that we are not already enough as we are, that we need to be different in some way.
I’m a massive fan of personal development and I’m part of the industry I mentioned above but I don’t buy into the self-improvement theory. I don’t believe we should all feel the pressure to change or be something we’re not and I don’t believe we’re falling short in the way that so many of us feel.
You see I think self-improvement is all about being the best version of you, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly – it’s always going to happen, it’s its destiny but it takes time, some are quicker than others and some butterflies are more beautiful than others, some have missing bits or imperfections but that’s what makes us unique and it’s about uncovering that beauty not trying to change it or wishing we were something or someone else.
I’m different now to who I was then but underneath it’s all the same – it’s all me.
The difference is I used to be confused about who I was and what I wanted, I was too busy trying to fit the mould to figure out who I was and what I wanted and I lacked the confidence to believe there was another way. I’d never heard of values, I certainly didn’t know I had them inside and authenticity filled me with fear because I desperately wanted to fit in.
I went on a journey of self-discovery, I travelled the world in search of answers, I walked away from a corporate career and rebuilt a life around my dreams. I figured out what my values were and how to live with meaning and purpose and I became more aware of who I was and what I wanted.
This gave me the confidence to start my own business, write a book and leave a relationship of seven years with a man because I was gay.
It’s a slow journey, one that takes time, one in which we learn from our mistakes and our experiences and each day we grow stronger and more beautiful like the butterfly. But it doesn’t stop there, I don’t think there’s ever a day that we’ve made it and all our dreams come true.
We continue to grow, learn and develop whether we’re 21 or 71.
It’s not about changing who we fundamentally are – about improving ourselves or being different but uncovering our true potential, growing into the person we’re capable of being and embracing that greatness that has been there all along buried deep within us – that’s development, that’s being awesome and it’s something we’re born with.
Much of the time we’re worried we should be better than we are or that we’re not as good as someone else. We worry about what others think when they judge us or why we’re not measuring up to others we are judging. We’re all worried about what people think of us yet the irony is no one is thinking half the things about you that you dread, do you know why? Because they’re all too busy worrying about what other people think of them.
Unfortunately there will always be someone more beautiful, clever, talented or stronger than you. But the reverse is also true: there will always be people less than you in all of these areas.
So instead of comparing yourself to others, look to see if you’re fulfilling your own potential and celebrate the things you already have.
We are inclined to think more negatively, especially where our flaws are concerned and we’re designed to notice this above the positives. We spend more time focusing on our weaknesses than our strengths.
Everyone has weaknesses and no matter how hard we try we’re never likely to be great at this but if we focus on our natural skills and abilities – this is what helps us grown and be successful and the things others admire in us.
We often view our weaknesses as fatal flaws which need addressing yet everyone has them and we all have strengths too. By virtue of being human we’ll have a collection of both.
The trick is to focus on leveraging our strengths and accepting our weaknesses.
There’s a element of vulnerability to admit there are certain things we just can’t excel at (spreadsheets and accounts in my case!) yet that doesn’t make us useless or broken or defect in some way. There are also many things we excel at and strengths we have and embracing both sides of this coin is key to our success.
Being authenticity you, true to all you are and all you believe in is the shortcut to being awesome and it’s an authenticity that develops as we age but exists within us all along, it’s our true heart and soul and when we’re are in touch with this, acting in accordance with this we’ve not need to improve ourselves or feel like we need to be different in anyway.
It’s not an excuse to sit and do nothing and to stay in a place that’s comfortable even when we know we can do better but it’s about being real with ourselves and allowing us to develop in our own time, pushing our limits and facing our fears but being patient, accepting and not beating ourselves up when we fail or when progress feels too slow.
This is awesome and this is being our best selves and by feeling comfortable and confident we show up beautifully in everyday life and inspire others with our flaws and imperfection and all.
It doesn’t stop us, it helps shape us into the best version of ourselves, no improvement necessary.
About Jess Stuart
Jess Stuart is on a mission to empower people to realise their potential to achieve balance in life, inspiring people to find their purpose, rediscover what matters and make changes to bring about a healthier, happier world.
Jess is an author of two books, with on-line courses, events and workshops that focus on personal development with balance. She focuses on leadership development training in businesses and loves working with women to help them overcome self-doubt to achieve their potential. She is also an international key note speaker on topics such as Mindfulness, Resilience and Success and Empowering Women.
After a successful career in the corporate HR world Jess decided to follow her passions. A qualified yoga and meditation instructor with a certificate in Life Coaching. Jess has trained in Buddhist meditation and mindfulness. Having lived, worked and volunteered in many countries with some inspirational people Jess draws her life experience into her work to share the principles of health and happiness.
Jess’s latest book, Like A Girl, is a guide to leveraging our feminine potential to thrive at life.
More about Jess…