The Most Common Advice You’ve Been Given Is The Worst

We hear it all the time.  From our families, our friends, basically from everyone who loves us.  It’s especially popular when we want advice for getting someone, an interviewer, someone we admire, or a girl we like to want to us in their lives.  It’s supposedly the cure-all.  The simple adjustment that will let our true colors shine through and win them over.

“Just be yourself,” we are told.

So we remain whatever we are.  We continue doing the things we have always done.  And we don’t get the job, the friend, or the girl.

“Be yourself” is not only the most common piece of advice, it’s also the most useless.  99% of us spend our entire lives “just being ourselves.”  A pretty girl makes eye contact and we turn, order a drink, and talk sports with our buddies.  Just being ourselves.  A friend musters up the courage to talk to her and we knock him when he comes back numberless.  Just being ourselves.  We eat, sleep, and breathe ourselves.  And when we wind up unsatisfied and seek advice, we are told to do more of the same.

Its time for something different.

Its time to choose ourselves.

So who do you want to be?  Forget who you think you are.  Chances are the personality you call your own—the one you think defines you—is just an accident.  It’s an identity forged by triumphs and failures in middle school.  You weren’t born with that personality; you didn’t pick it.  It happened to you.  So put it to the side and ask yourself: If you could design yourself from the ground up, what kind of person would you want to be?

I’ll go first.  I want to be charismatic.  I want infectious positivity.  I want everyone to feel good when they are around me.  I want my character to attract amazing people into my life.  I want to be funny, but I don’t want to cut anyone down for a laugh.  I want to be courageous.  I want to be a thoughtful son and the world’s best friend.  I want to be genuine and honest ALWAYS, especially when its tough.  And I want to humble enough to admit when I am wrong.

Am I there yet?  No.  I am going to have to take a good look at myself and honestly evaluate the ways in which I fall short of my own standards.  I am going to have to admit some hard truths about the person I am and resist some of my most deeply-rooted habits.  I’ve made huge strides, but I suspect this will be a project that lasts a lifetime.  I do it not because it is easy, but because I know the amazing person I can become is 100% worth it.


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