Thirty minutes was all I had left with my client, “Mark.”
For the first twenty minutes of his training session, Mark had gone into detail about why he wasn’t happy, even though he should be. He talked at length about how he felt he was being undermined at work. He knew that he should be standing up for himself, and start showing his colleagues that he’s “got his act together.” He wanted to stand out in meetings, he also desperately wanted to fit in with the people he worked with. He looked at me, and continued to give more reasons why his life felt so incongruent with who he thought he was and could be.
I’ve been paid to help Mark through this, and I had twenty-five minutes left before his session was over.
I moved in close, standing nearly toe-to-toe, and peered deep into his eyes: “Is it possible, Mark, that there is a courageous, exciting, authentic, and confident man in there?”
He responded, “I think so…there’s a part of me that is like this, yes… but not all the time.”
Still looking at him, I said, “Perhaps, Mark, therein lies the problem.”
This isn’t always easy to say to my clients, but it’s a universal truth most all of us face at one time or another: the image you have of yourself could be a lot better, and you should be more congruent in how you show up in the world.
When we are in congruence – living in alignment with who we believe we are, how we want others to think of us, and who we want to become, we tap into a profoundly powerful human drive.
When we don’t act in accordance with the idea of who we believe ourselves to be, we end up feeling frustrated or anxious, and self-loathing sets in.
Mark’s challenge isn’t unique. I’ve coached many clients through similar experiences. And as humans, we all go through this:
1.Mark thought too little of himself, and it caused him to act that way at work. He was being congruent with his limited belief about who he was, and this left him feeling powerless and depressed.
2.He knew he could be MORE - but when he wasn’t behaving as his best self, his esteem and self-worth suffered.
This dual-sided challenge of congruence that most of us experience can be positive or negative. Meaning, its positive when we have a good self-image and high standards, and there’s congruency between the two. But it’s negative when we think lesser of ourselves and we act accordingly with that image.
Herein lies the challenge of this powerful human drive for congruence: most of us are congruent with how small we think of ourselves - we question our worth and value, so we hold back and play small. But, we are not congruent in our daily actions with how GREAT we know we can be.
To support my clients work through this challenge, I help them create higher standards and expectations for themselves, and encourage them as they bring those standards and expectations into how they interact with the world.
Your happiness, success, and quality of life are at stake here. It’s important to create a unifying self-image of who you are and who you want to be. Setting standards for yourself is the best way to do that.
Let this be your anthem going forward: Think higher of yourself, and demand that your actions be congruent with the BEST of who you are and who you can be.
Of course, it can be hard to always be congruent. As humans, we will have good days where we’re confident, fun, and playful, and we will have situations where we fail.
But in the end, your self-image is a self-fulfilling prophecy – your human drive makes you behave in accordance with that image.
Strive for greatness. Take pride in your boldness. Chart your own course. Connect with others.
Here is my challenge for you: On a continual basis, ask yourself, “Do my actions reflect the quality of the person I want to be, and can be?”
Don’t worry about what others think. Worry about doing what’s right and meaningful. If controversy or hurt feelings happen along the way, you’ll meet them with your full presence and care – but you will march on.
Your story is being crafted by your self image and every action you take, all leading somewhere, all leading to what one hopes will be a magnificent life.
This is your time. Your destiny awaits.
PS – I’d LOVE if you would share this article! Do you have a co-worker or friend who needs a shot in the arm right now? Well, forward this on to them. They’ll thank you. And so do I.