I posted of my favorite graphics earlier today on social media.
I cannot even remember where I saw this a long time ago, probably in an online success article. So I can’t take credit for it at all.
Here were my original thoughts on this:
There is no overnight success… just lots of hard work and mistakes that fail you forward to success. I especially love that he’s Breaking Plates. Today’s a new day to just keep at it! #discipline #focus #hardwork #staythecourse #intention #fail #success #successmindset #drive #patience
I absolutely stand by all of that. But after I posted it, and then furiously checked all the things off my list this morning, I took a deep breath and realized that there is so much more behind that scene of success on the stage. Something more important that anyone’s perceived impression of success. And that’s our growth as human beings.
This process of becoming who we are supposed to be is unbelievably hard, breathtakingly sweet, and new every minute.
I think amid all the noise of success and achievement and title and money and fame and pressure to be The Best At All Things, the two most important questions to ask are:
Who am I?
Who do I want to become?
Who am I?
If you love personality tests like I do, you can rattle off a whole bunch of defining labels right off the cuff – Enneagram – 2, DISC – S, Color – Blue, Strengthsfinder – Developer, Spiritual gifts – Faith, VIA Character – Teamwork, etc. (Those are all mine, by the way.)
I’m loving all of these tests right now, up in the middle of the night with a baby, especially the Enneagram. And social media is amazing for learning more about each type. Dig into yours of course, and also your spouse’s. I’m a 2w3 (people-pleasing giver/nurturer who thrives on affirmation/achievement) married to an 8w7 (control-loving provider/protector with a flair for adventure and winning).
These tests are fun because they shine light onto how your brain works and what makes your heart tick. It’s exciting to read the descriptions of each “type” and realize that wow, yes, I DO do that, and now I know why. As you learn more, you’ll be continually encouraged that it is hard to be you sometimes. And it’s even harder to be in relationship with other blessed humans – especially the one you’re married to!
So when you ask yourself the question, “who am I, really?”, those personality labels definitely come in handy. But those labels are not who you really are. If I met another person with my Enneagram type (there are many – Barbara Bush is my favorite), we would still be as different as day and night.
You also have to take into account your life experience… choices you’ve made and things that have happened to you that were out of your control.
It’s important that your past doesn’t hold you back, or harden your heart. But I think it’s unavoidable that certain choices and events give you a new lens through which you view your life and the world around you.
So, taking life events into account, I’m a 2w3 who had her world rocked by child loss and a near-divorce. Who adopted a baby and runs a business. Those events have dialed up my resilience and perseverance, tapped into my faith, strengthened my courage, and lit my drive on fire. All specific additions to me as an individual.
So who are you?
Take the Enneagram test, it’s fun! Then add to the label with what makes you especially you. What events and choices have given you different lenses through which you view your life and the world?
Some of those lenses may be rose-colored, but some of them are more fuzzy or even dark. Those are the lenses that need work and maybe even professional help. If some reflection brings you to the realization you need help, reach out. Life’s too short to keep looking through dirty glass.
Then, what motivates you? What inspires you? What excites you? What wakes you up in the middle of the night?
PS: You are not your mistakes
I look at that man with the staircase of broken plates behind him and I could put a nametag on every single one. Every mistake, every misstep, every failure, every disappointment. I had a major (MAJOR) mom fail yesterday that could have had awful consequences – and on top of that, it was public and it was embarrassing. Another broken plate.
But those broken plates are not who I am. Who I am is the woman who keeps tossing more plates in the air, who has learned something from the last ones, and who chooses to keep going – knowing that it will take many, many more broken plates to become who I want to be.
What mistakes brought (or maybe even still bring) you shame and hold you back from trying again? Call them by name and leave them behind.
And then ask:
Who do I want to become?
The temptation here is to name an actual person. It helps to have role models for sure, but they struggle into their Spanx just like you and me.
The other danger is to wish you had another set of talents or innate personality qualities. We can all work on teachable abilities like our people/conversation skills, image, confidence, etc. But I spent enough time trying to be someone I’m not that I’ve learned it’s wasted effort. It also ends in lots of tears and emptiness and eating trays of Double Stuf Oreos in bed. (I wish I could say I have never done that but that would be lying.)
Cultivate the unique skills you already have. Don’t try to be anyone other than yourself. Which leads us to the next – and more appropriate – question:
What version of YOU do you want to become?
- Maybe I can use my drive to create something that can help someone’s soul, marriage, family, and future.
- Or I could take that part of me that wants to please people and become a person who does good and faithful work for an audience of One.
- The nurturer in me can be a good listener and a better friend.
- And what if I could leverage my (usually super-annoying) need for affirmation into a habit of seeking out the miraculous in other people?
Whoever you are, and whatever you have, is still just in rough-draft phase. Your skills and tendencies are perfectly and uniquely placed for you to polish them by practicing them.
Practice means mistakes. And that’s okay. They’re necessary if you want to get better at anything. Did you ever play sports or an instrument when you were a kid? I guarantee: you were bad. I was too. Just don’t quit.
The whole point of you on this planet is to be YOU. The very best version of you. The best woman, believer, servant, wife, mother, sister, and friend.
Here’s to you.
P.S. What is the ONE thing that makes you uniquely you? Post a comment below, or even better, hop on over to our Heartfully Present Facebook Community to share your thoughts. We’re a total mixed bag and we like it that way. There’s room for you, too. <3
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