When you compare yourself to someone else you were simply saying you were trying to be someone else. Giving you a false inferiority under them if they're better or giving you a false superiority over them if you're better. You never were supposed to feel superior or inferior but to be an admirer. And more than admire be an enthusiast. Celebrate what others are doing instead of comparing what others are doing is the best way to stay free from jealousy and pride. Your uniqueness doesn't and shouldn't make you superior or inferior but peculiar. No one can worship God like you or for you.
Since your life is an act of worship, every word you speak is a unique vernacular and sound that is distinct to the chorus of your community: every action is a unique expression to the mosaic of what the kingdom of God looks like the others. If you don't know who you are and you don't know your identity then culture will tell you who you are and declare your identity. The younger you are the harder it is to know who you really are because you haven’t had enough experiences, enough trials, enough pleasures to know what you like and what you don’t like. But don't let that discourage you. You still have history, past moments, passions, interests and relationships in your life that speak to who you are and what you're about.
How do you learn who you are? Here some fast points to get you thinking:
1. Get Rid Of The Other ME’s
As you’re discovering yourself you will discover there are a few “me’s” you have to avoid:
The ME I don’t want to be: this "me" shows up in bitterness, unforgiveness, etc.
The ME I pretend to be: this "me" shows up in insecurity, vanity, dishonesty, etc
The ME others want me to be: this "me" shows up in people-pleasing performance, perfectionism, etc
But there is a ME that God wants you to be. That is the true you. Recognize the voices of these other "me's" and simply get rid of them. Like assassins they will do everything in their power to sabotage your true identity so take them out first. Henri Nouwen writes, “Spiritual greatness has nothing to do with being greater than others. It has everything to do with being as great as each of us can be." So let's find our inner greatness and watch God move through you like never before.
2. Be yourself more often
Stay true to who you are. Secure and self-aware leaders exude confidence and give confidence to others. In a changing world, the habit of self-discovery is critical for the stability of your career, your relationships and your organization. So if your relationships, environments, title or job changes...you don't. You stay true to who God has called you to be. It’s not about what you do but who you are. Which means your identity precedes your activity. I propose Human being first then human doing.
3. A better “me” is a better “we"
Great leadership starts with self-leadership, which means you know yourself. This is paramount. “Who am I?” is the foundation to “How do I ___________?” Everyone wants to be great. But few are willing to put in the hard work to get there. You can’t take people to where you’ve never been so you’ve got to push yourself to get to where you want to go first. When you discipline yourself and create habits to advance yourself, you have pioneered a trail that others will follow. Essentially proving the point that a better “me” is a better “we." Your self-leadership will always benefit those around you so lead yourself well.
4. Know who you’re not
The best thing that you can do is invite honest feedback into your life. Who has that permission to be honest with you, your career, your personality and your future? We all know that girl on American Idol who was told “fulfill your dreams” and “you have an angel’s voice” only to have J-LO and leaving Seacrest to clean up the mess. Don’t be that kind of voice to those around you…you are not avoiding a conflict but promoting a bad future for those in your life who need that honest feedback.
Enlist a team of people around you to be honest with you and that you can be vulnerable with. Do this regularly and ask them what you’re NOT good at. It’s hard to receive criticism. I know. But think of it less as criticizing you and more of creating you…into a better person. Teachability is a trait that is hard to master as a young leader so be intentional with others and cultivate a posture of teachability with others. Give those you trust in you life permission to be honest with you and watch your gifts be brought to the surface.
5. Take a Test
Self-discovery tests are great tools to help identify who you are and what you're good at. It doesn’t matter if you prefer StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, DISC, or any other reputable one. Pick one or two and get started. Know very clearly your areas of strength. Think of these tests as excavation tools. They are unearthing what is already there. They will highlight areas, give you language and get you started.
Once you have a few results in hand, review them next to each other and look for words, phrases and patterns that come to the surface. This removes the emotion out of it. A printout can’t “hurt your feelings” but will still be honest with your identity, gifts, and passions. And keep doing it every few years to see how your gifts and passions have changed.
6. Schedule regular get-aways.
You need to put into your calendar times to "work in" your calling and "work on" your calling. Basically, you have to pull out of the hustle and allow yourself time to work on yourself as a leader so that you can get back to working on your projects. Book appointments with people you trust that you have given permission to speak into your life. Run your current schedule, projects and life by these people. They will give you insight as to what you need to work on. These must be personal retreats where you focus on reflection and introspection. Go alone to a quiet place if possible and unplug from your phone, e-mail, and social media as much as possible. Be intentional about answering specific questions about who you are and how you’ve changed since the last time you did this.
7. Keep Learning Because Self-discovery is not a one-hit-wonder
Self-discovery is about excavation and not production. Producing who I am for others comes from outside pressures. You mold yourself for the expectations of others. Excavating who I am comes from the inside. It’s already there and is embedded into my personality, etc. It’s about unearthing who I am and what I’m meant to do. Once you feel you have discovered your identity, you’ve probably changed. So self-discovery is not a one-time perception but a lifetime of excavation.
Schedule identity-discovering exercises into the rhythms of your life. If you aren’t intentional about identity, you’ll ignore it because YOU are too important to be too busy to be overlooked or ignored!
What practices do you have that you could add?