In February 2016, I snapped a photo of my co-worker in a badass pose and posted it online. I captioned it with the words “warrior, legend and role model.” My manager at the time was pissed.
He hated that I hyped up someone other than myself, a tendency that I’d possessed for years. He told me that I could achieve the same success that my co-worker had, as we both were contracted with the same sales agency.
That moment sticks out to me because it’s emblematic of my decades-long lack of self-awareness of my extraordinary qualities. I have gotten much better at realizing my shortcomings and negative habits.
Not so much for my positive attributes.
A close friend recently admitted that he has always avoided approaching women out of fear of rejection. He’s the same person who I’ve put on a pedestal since adolescence because of the endless stream of pretty girls who fawned over him.
What I didn’t realize is that he was never the initiator. He was a slim, well-groomed, and nicely dressed young man, and that made him “eye candy” to the ladies.
I was built more like Biggie Smalls but had none of the hip-hop legend’s swaggering confidence. It had become clear to me as far back as grade school that girls were not attracted to “fat boy,” and that positioned my self-esteem at the lowest level for many years.
Looking back, I now see how often I sold myself short. While I was highlighting my peers for their popular attributes, I was ignoring the existence of mine. My friend grabbed positive attention from girls because he was a well dressed, normal-sized guy.
He didn’t seem impressed by that, yet I gave it “billboard-style” attention because I admired what I didn’t have.
It took years for me to discover the value of my charisma, personality, sense of humor, communication skills, intelligence, and persuasive thoughts and ideas. Once I tapped into my exceptional qualities, I benefited from them and my self-esteem began to rise.
One key takeaway from those experiences is an awareness of everyone’s limits. No one has any real advantage over anyone else because there’s always something lacking in each of us that another person has.
I love using basketball analogies to make points, so here goes:
LeBron James is the most skilled basketball player in the game currently. He has power, finesse, speed, and quickness. But as excellent as he is, he doesn’t possess the mind-blowing shooting abilities of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, or Damian Lillard.
James can’t create majestic scoring flourishes the way Kyrie Irving can, nor does he need to. Just as any of the aforementioned superstars don’t need to do what LeBron does.
It’s the same for the rest of us. My friend doesn’t need to possess my personality and communication skills, and I don’t have to be slim while sporting designer clothes.
Maintain self-awareness for your pluses and minuses because it’s better to know exactly who you are as often as possible.
Motivational Speaker Les Brown has spoken often about the insecurities he once held in speaking to business executives who possessed esteemed degrees. He, on the other hand, was a high school dropout.
As he stressed their credentials and his lack of them, an empowering thought occurred to him. His inner voice said, “don’t worry about what they have; bring what you have.”
Translation: They have degrees and you don’t. But you possess something great that they don’t, so focus on that.
Words to live by for all of us.