5 Approaches To Develop Yourself And Stay Unique
With the wealth of information and advice on how to become better leaders, it can be very tempting to assimilate all types of styles and behaviors and lose yourself in the process.
We have a tendency to look at our weaknesses and focus on growing those areas, leaving our unique gifts and strengths to be lost in the process. Think for instance the new leader, or even the young child, who tries to hard to be someone they’re not by emulating their boss or parent. Many times they have someone pull them aside and say “Relax, just be yourself.”
So how can you blend personal development and stay true to who you are? The balance lies in these key steps:
- Know yourself. Take a few minutes and write down what you enjoy and what you feel your strengths are. Write down what people say you’re good at as well. These are your strengths that you need to play to. They are what makes you unique and gives a point of differentiation you have that no one else does. Develop those strong points daily, and use them to showcase your talents and calling.
- Identify your growth areas, but keep them in moderation. Find 3-5 areas you’d like to grow, then develop a plan for improvement. Don’t make this the core focus of your development plan. Instead, incorporate those items into your daily routine – whether through mentoring, reading, listening, or taking 5 minutes for thinking and reflection. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by them. Your biggest impact will be strengthening your core traits above, while smoothing out the rough and weak spots. The goal is to create a balance within yourself and improve holistically.
- Don’t strive for other’s approval to the exclusion of self. Just like the child seeking mom or dad’s attention by being a trouble-maker, don’t allow others to dictate your growth trajectory. Be authentic to yourself and not what others want you to be. That said, the best way to get other’s approval is to bring a unique value to the team in everything you do. By creating quality work that only you can provide, you will gain other’s notice through your ability to be trustworthy, productive, and relatable.
- Beware of labels and generalizing yourself. DISC and Meyers-Briggs assessments are great tools, but we can easily fall prey to the “I’m a high ‘D”” or “I’m an ESTJ” and lose ourselves in the grading system. If we default our strengths or weak areas to a score, we tend to excuse it away and justify behaviors without growing. If you are a high “I” or an INFP, then use that as a basis for self-awareness and development. In addition, try to view every situation from the eyes of those whose personalities and works styles are different from yours. Getting out of yourself in order to better develop yourself is the best way to grow as a leader.
- Don’t think you have to master every skill. Leadership traits are numerous; do you have a high kinesthetic, emotional quotient, connectivity, deep network, or even a great smile? No one will ever master every skill set, so don’t wear yourself out trying to be everything for everyone. The more you can devote a balanced growth plan to get stronger in your core areas and prioritize your opportunity areas, the more you’ll be free to really grow and not be overwhelmed in doing everything. Even Ben Franklin overlooked his 13th virtue of Humility from time to time. Keep your development manageable to the degree that you can be successful and feel fulfilled in where you are growing.
Remember, only you have the unique blend of talents that can impact your sphere of influence. Work hard to grow, but balance that out with the realistic and relaxed approaches mentioned above.