As a young associate, I watched an older, skilled trial lawyer I’ll call Dave in action. How does he do it? He makes it look so easy. Certainly, he must have a secret.
So, I got up the nerve to ask him.
“What’s your secret to being a great trial lawyer?”
“Be yourself. Juries can see right through it if you’re fake. You must be sincere, and you must find your own style.”
Wow. That wasn’t what I expected to hear.
I thought he would say to work harder and smarter than everyone else. To emulate him. To speak boldly and clearly. To take control and project confidence. In other words, “Never let them see you sweat!”
But that wasn’t his advice. Instead, he told me to be the person God created. No, Dave wasn’t a religious man. But anyone who successfully tries cases for 50 years understands human nature. That we are each uniquely skilled and talented – that the only thing we contribute that isn’t fungible comes from within.
So what does it take to be yourself? Frankly, it’s harder than it sounds.
There is no formula for being yourself.
There’s no “cookbook” for being yourself. We just have to do it. We must learn by trial and error – in other words, the hard way! When some of us start our careers, we don’t even know who we are or what we want to be. It can take years and years of practice. As we grow, we change.
I can’t tell you who I’m going to be ten years from now. I can’t tell you how I’m going to get from here to there, or what “there” even looks like. But I’m committed to a journey that no one can walk for me. That’s the beauty and the thrill.
Comparisons will derail our journey.
We must put an end to the constant comparisons. Jealousy is toxic, especially when it comes to our work. Every thriving business has a range of contributors – from bossy leaders to quiet worker bees. And you cannot measure success by the person above you, next to you, or below you.
The best measure of success is whether we work in an environment where we can use our full potential — in other words, where we can be ourselves. And not worry about the cubicle next to us. As I constantly preach to my children, “Just worry about yourself!”
The best coach is our Creator.
No one knows you like the One who made you. Our Creator knows our greatest strengths, greatest weaknesses, and greatest potential. Which means He is fully equipped to help us be ourselves. He also knows our dreams and desires – not only who we are, but who we want to be.
When we walk into His office for a coaching session, there is no “intake exam” or family history to cover. And He doesn’t charge by the hour!
Like I said, Dave wasn’t a particularly religious man. But I took his advice to heart.
What’s the best advice you’ve received at work?
Bonus tip: I’ve been following a fascinating discussion on Linked In in the Professional Women’s Network on “the best advice I’ve ever received …”