How to Be the Best

Last week was a BIG week for me - my story was featured in Forbes!

It was an amazing opportunity and I spent some time this weekend reflecting back on the past week and this experience.

And I had an epiphany that I couldn't wait to share with you...

The only way to be the BEST you can be is to be YOU.

Ok. I realize it might sound a little cheesy and maybe not quite as impressive as your typical "epiphany", but please give me a moment to explain...

I've spent a fair amount of my 37 years on this Earth trying to be the best. Or at least "one of the best."

I was trying to be the best something but it wasn't the best me

I tried to be the best healthcare actuary I could be. I won a few awards but I never quite fit in and job satisfaction often eluded me.

I tried to be the best senior data analyst I could be. I was actually really good at this job but also really bored. I loved my team but not my role, or working in healthcare for that matter.

I tried to be the best consumer insights associate I could be. This one was especially rough. My work was often good but not great and I was willfully inept at being strategic about promotions. After 3 years here, I left feeling like a pretty mediocre human being. And that kind of sucked.

But right as I was leaving, during the final days of saying goodbye, something really unexpected happened.

A director, who was the very first person to interview me several years prior, stopped me in the hallway. We worked on the same floor and every day I passed his office. I would smile and wave but was never invited in for conversation.

But on this particular day, he came out of his office just to greet me. He had gotten wind of my impending career break and wanted to tell me how proud he was of my decision and to commend me for making such a "brave" choice.

Wow, y'all.  Like wow.

Flash forward to this past week when I was featured in Forbes.

This was a great accomplishment for sure, but by business school standards it was a spectacular achievement. If someone had told our class that one of us would be featured in Forbes, I don't know that anyone (including myself) would have guessed that it would be me.

But here's the CRAZIEST part...

I wasn't featured in Forbes for being an exceptional consumer insights associate or corporate business person.

I was featured in Forbes for telling my own personal story and for following my dreams of being a life coach.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I would have NEVER guessed that I could be featured in Forbes for something other than doing whatever it is I thought successful business people do.

But I was wrong.

I was featured in Forbes... for being ME.

And the director at my old job was probably never going to notice me for being the best associate he'd ever seen. But he did notice me when I was following my heart. When I was being brave enough to do something different.

When I was being me.

And that feels so freeing. Because it never felt great to try to be someone else. To go through the motions and do the things I thought I should be doing, while downplaying all of the things that make me special and different but weren't seen as valuable in the corporate setting.

And now I see... I don't have to. The only way to be the best I can be is to just surrender and be myself.

How's that for an epiphany?

I'm dedicating this story to anyone who feels like a bit of a misfit, weirdo or odd bird - just like me. I know you've been working hard, but I want to ask you... are you sure you're working towards the right goals?

Are you working hard at being the best YOU that you can be? Or are you working towards someone else's version of success?

If you're bravely charging ahead to be yourself, then I commend you - it took me a lot of years to get here.

But if you're not... I want you to take this opportunity to stop and think about what it might look like for you.

Maybe it's:

  •  Sharing your wacky but innovative idea at the next team meeting
  •  Joining a group that loves your hobby/interest as much as you do
  •  Enrolling in a course that has nothing to do with your current job but everything to do with your passions and gifts
  •  Creating a plan to leave a job where the real you never shines

No matter what it is... know that I support you and am rooting for you, just like I'm rooting for me.

If your current definition of success is weighing you down or leaves you feeling inadequate, check out this article in Business News Daily where myself and 15 other entrepreneurs share our own definitions of success.

Find one that's more empowering than your current one and claim it!

- Katrina