Unlock the authentic you!

Proactive career management, building a bona fide personal brand, finding the vocation in line with what you want out of life requires that you know yourself well, and understand how others perceive you. You were selected for your current position or project essentially because of other people’s assessment about the value you bring to it - your value proposition.

If you are unhappy in your job, find out why, for real.

If you find yourself blaming your boss, your co-workers, your commute, your pay, company policies, etc., step back from these externalities and invest some time to thoroughly examine you! Consider your role in problems you identify as sources of discontent. Maybe you are just not doing things that make you happy on a fundamental level. You likely have no power to change your employer or the people you work with, but you can change things about you, where you work, and what you do. One thing is certain, wherever you go, there you are!

“We must know thyself to be wise; the unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates

Do not fall into a trap of letting others define success for you. Knowing yourself well, understanding what motivates you, what your core values are, and what you are most passionate about is fundamental to achieving success as you would define it for yourself.

“The only way to great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” —Steve Jobs

If it’s so simple, just do what you love, then why do so many people settle?
Why not take some time out to get the honest answers to these four questions?
1. When you are most happy and at peace with yourself, what are you doing?

2. What motivates you?

3. What are the things that you are most passionate about?

4. What are your core values?

5. What are some things you have always wanted to do, yet have not?

In her book, THE TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, palliative care expert, Bronnie Ware shares her personal insight on the regrets people express on their death bed. Number one on her list was "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

Living true to ourselves requires that we really know ourselves, and really knowing ourselves requires brutal honesty. Consider the five questions posed earlier. We may be tempted to answer them with answers that we believe would sound good to others. That is a common mistake. What is your honest answer? Your honest answer might be far removed from the thoughts and ideas you have been conditioned to believe.

My personal experience with fear and honesty:

In the early days of my career, while still in business school, it was suggested to me that the best place to start my career was in sales. I set out to learn what it took to be a good salesperson. Over and over again, I would hear, or read, that the most successful sales people are motivated by money. I read stories about these super rich people that made millions through sales of real estate, cars, etc., and they owed it to their deep love for money! I felt that I had to measure up. I made up my mind that I will have to be money motivated if I am ever going to succeed. If anyone asked me what motivated me every day I would say "earning as much money as I can, duh!", or something to that effect.

Unfortunately, this did not honestly reflect my core values. I came from a family of modest income and money while important, was not an over-arching central focus of our lives. Money did not rank as high in value to me as did the people in my life. Just out of school, I was not sure what exactly motivated me. I had not given any consideration to the question. At that moment, because I didn’t know myself, and life was staring me head-on, I was simply motivated by fear.

If I had moved past the fear, and actually reflected on what was important to me, I would have understood that I am motivated by helping others reach their goals. Whether it is the goals of my family, my customers, my boss, or the company I work for, I want to be an integral part of the story and contribute to their success. Fortunately for me, and my sales career, success in sales has much to do with helping people meet their needs and reach their goals. I was, and I am still, passionate about that.

How you are perceived by others is essential to knowing yourself.

People you trust to be honest with you can help you better understand yourself. Consider the feedback you get in the performance review process. Seek out on a regular basis open, honest feedback by asking for it. There are some excellent self-assessment tools available from qualified career coaches, and some good tools can be found online. One that I use is the 360Reach Personal Brand Assessment created by William Arruda.

360Reach is a comprehensive, confidential 360 degree assessment survey that is emailed to your peers, co-workers, boss, friends, and family. Unlike many 360 degree assessments that focus on leadership skills, 360Reach gives you a reflection of your unique personality and character traits, leadership qualities, skills, strengths and weaknesses that you portray to the people in your life.

All of these elements are the fundamental ingredients that make up your value proposition, and will factor into understanding the authentic you!

Author's Bio: 

Larry Edward Smith is a career consultant, resume writer, interview coach and 360Reach certified personal brand assessment coach. For more information visit http://LEdwardSmith.com