“Be Yourself, everyone is already taken,” as Oscar Wilde never said.
Although there’s no evidence he made the famous statement about ‘being yourself’ his writings do support the fact that he worked out that the easiest way to live his life was to be himself.
What’s so smart about that? Most of us want to be liked. And part of being liked is not letting people down and living up to other people’s expectations. But what are those expectations? We don’t really know, so we have to guess. The result is that we try to be the kind of person we think others will approve of.
Oscar didn’t want to play that game. He didn’t want to be someone else. He wanted to be himself – regardless of the consequences. It got him into trouble, because being true to himself (a gay man in the late nineteenth century in England) just happened to be illegal. But in terms of the work he produced – the plays he wrote – being true to himself was a huge advantage, and he produced outstanding work, which was heralded then and now as brilliant.
It’s the same in business. If you choose to do work that you believe others will approve of, you’ll never produce your very best. Because you’ll be guessing. And you won’t be doing the kind of work that comes naturally.
If, on the other hand, you choose to do work that expresses who you really are, you are likely to do brilliant work. Work that people really appreciate. Work that they’ll pay more for. Work that defines you and ultimately could bring you fame and fortune. But you need to start by being you. By stamping your own character on the work you do. By being true to yourself. And by accepting that when you bring your own personality into the work you do, you add weight and vitality to that work.
So take a look at the work you’re doing right now – this moment, and ask yourself “is this me, or is this what I think others will like?” If the answer is the latter, then it’s time to bring yourself back into the equation. You’ll enjoy your work far more, and so will your customers.
For more information about being yourself through the work you do or the business you run, please get in touch with me.
Justin Cooper is the founder of Brand Purpose .Co, which helps employees, business owners and business leaders to define their Purpose and leverage it through their work, business or brand in a way that inspires, unites and connects the people they work with.