I attended a 'Celebration of Life' of one of my mentors yesterday, Ed Percival.
Ed was a lovely guy, and a quite brilliant coach. Ed had a number of little phrases he used to great effect, and one that was repeated many times by his eulogisers yesterday was 'Be more you'.
In honour and appreciation of Ed, I would like to expand on these three words.
Let me take you back to the time you were a teenager. It's the time in our lives when our development accelerates, our worlds expand and we learn how to ‘be’ in the world of grown-ups. At the same time it's so important to us to 'fit in'. I remember how much effort I would put in to being accepted by 'the cool kids'. It may make me cringe a little now as I reminisce, but the feeling it engenders is still visceral. In those years when learning how to fit in I was also learning, albeit unconsciously, to ‘be less me’.
Fast forward to the present day and I am aware of how much corporate life is about ‘fitting in’. Being a team player. Being onside. Being one of us. Different ways of saying: Supress your individuality, deny your uniqueness, manage your behaviours, do as we suggest and you’ll progress.
But what happens to us as individuals when we follow this path? For me it feels like (to be melodramatic) a little bit of me dies inside. It reinforces the idea that I’m not good enough, and I have to change.
We may know this isn’t true and yet, because this is a continual message we get bombarded with, (much like the adverts for beauty products, but don’t let’s get diverted by those evil so and so’s) we need to work to reduce and reverse the message. What on earth does it mean practically to ‘Be more you’?
I would love to know what you do to ‘Be more you’ in this culture we have created. Let’s have a conversation, let’s try out each other’s ideas and record the impact.
Here’s one from me to kick us off: I find the language of ‘corporate speak’ baffling at times. Often I will hear a sentence and just not understand what the person has said or meant. In mentioning this to colleagues, they will also not understand, so I decided every time I hear this kind of gobbledegook I would ask for clarification. It’s not been easy, I’ve had some looks I can tell you! But it feels like the right thing for me to do (though maybe not at the time!) and it has gained me a reputation as the ‘Man who seeks clarity’.
What methods to you use? What have you tried and had success with? Have you tried a technique and not succeeded? We want to know that too!