Knowing Yourself, "The Foundation For Living Your Best Life"
By Greg A. Pestinger
Last month, I shared a list of principles and practices that helped me achieve my goals and moved me closer to my vision for the future in my personal and professional life. This month, I want to go a little deeper on Tip #1, “Know Who You Are”.
Knowing yourself is the critical first step in achieving success and happiness in your life. A clear honest and precise understanding of why we exist, how we make decisions and what others see in us is a must before we can set out to make our mark on the world. Knowing who we are with infinite clarity becomes the starting point for our success and happiness.
Let’s take a look at three key parts that make up who we are; our purpose, our values and our brand.
- Our Purpose – Finding our purpose can be as simple as asking ourselves “Why do we exist and why do others care?” Purpose is why we do what we do, that one thing that you and only you can bring to the world. When we are living our purpose, we are in a “state of flow” that simply feels right, we are realizing our full potential and bringing value to others.
So how do we find our purpose? A qualifier, I’m convinced that our purpose in life has been with us since birth and simply needs to be discovered. Step 1: Look back on your life and identify the most impactful stories, those memories that you can’t shake, the times in your life when you were in “flow” Step 2: pick 3-5 stories and write them down. Step 3: Look for and underline patterns in your stories. Step 4: Look at your life today, what are you doing today that align with your stories. Step 5: Pull it all together in a purpose statement and refine it until it feels right, describes your perfect life. A statement that says that “I am passionate about and do this better than anyone, because of this, I bring value to other people by….”
- Our Values – I like to think of values as my decision filters, the “how” we process information and the decisions we make from it. “What is it that we stand for, that line in the sand we never cross?” Values are our view of right and wrong. They are an accumulation of all our experiences, learnings and decisions. Most of us start with values taught to us growing up. These values never really leave us, yet may be refined over time and made our own through experiences we have throughout our adult lives.
So how do we use our values in decision making? Step 1: Write down your values. Step 2: Define what they mean to you, your definition, not necessarily Webster’s. Step 3: For decisions, ask yourself “does this decision align with my values?” Step 4: No matter what, if the answer is no, then walk away. It may be difficult, financially or otherwise in the short run but will pay back long term if you remain true to your values.
- Our Brand – Our brand is how we represent ourselves to others. It is a combination of our skills, our values and expertise. It is proof that we are living our purpose. Our brand simply answers the question; “What do others say about us when we are not around?”
Whether you are an individual, own a company or work for someone else, your brand determines if others are willing to work with you, a critical factor in your personal and professional success. What are the steps in branding yourself? Step 1: Discover your brand. Step 2: Develop your brand. Step 3: Communicate your brand. Step 4: Protect your brand. Your brand represents your value to others. It is your promise to friends, family, associates, employees and customers that they can count on you. It is who you are and needs to be protected at all costs.
A clear and concise knowledge of who we are results in “living our authentic self.” It insures that we are “walking the talk” in our actions, building trust and confidence in our relationships and provides the example for others to do the same in their own lives. In the end, business and personal life is all about human interaction. “Knowing who we are” allows others to know who we are and in so doing builds the trust and respect required to do business with us.
Join us next month as we explore and add “knowing what we want” to the equation for a happy and successful life. Together knowing who we are with what we want is the key to achieving our greatest dreams and realizing our full potential.