For some reason, the song “I’ve Got to Be Me” by Sammy Davis Jr. and recently made popular by the cast of Glee, came to mind. All I could remember of the song was “I’ve got to be me…” What that meant to me then as a child, I have no clue. But the feeling that I got when I sang it then, and the feeling I got again when I listened to Sammy croon on YouTube was one of power.
But yet it seems scary to BE YOU… doesn’t it? Like the first line in the song says, you could be right or wrong, find a place or NEVER belong! What a risk! But what else can you be but WHO YOU ARE?
Struggle always enters when we try to live contrary to WHO WE ARE. Life will always be fraught with challenges but those challenges build character strength to help us set and achieve stretch goals, confront and deal with chronic problems and rally through however long it takes us. Struggle crops up when we are not self aware. We set goals that are out of alignment with WHO we are and if we have strong enough will, gut it out to the end. Not everyone has this kind of stamina. Most times we live in an illusion that we can change everything about ourselves – how we eat, the amount of exercise we engage in, the time we spend with our family as the 31st of December turns into the 1st of January. We all know the end of this story. We don’t stick to our resolutions and then blame ourselves for not having enough willpower. In their book First Things First, Stephen R. Covey, Roger and Rebecca Merrill tell us that “the commitments we make in a moment of enthusiasm don’t have the sustaining power to carry us all the way to successful achievement of our goals.”
You’ve got to be YOU.
If you keep trying to build your life on a framework that seems popular today for countless others except you, ask yourself the following questions:
WHAT is it that I desire to accomplish? What is the contribution that I want to make? What is the end that I have in mind? WHY do I want to do it? Does my goal grow out of my mission, my needs and principles? And finally – HOW am I going to do it?
Sounds simple but try them on. Usually we know WHAT we want or at least we THINK we do. But when we get to asking ourselves WHY, we find ourselves in difficulty. I dare you to keep asking yourself WHY until it sits right with you. You will know.
How many goals have you set that you’ve never achieved? What did you tell yourself? That you were lazy? Didn’t have enough willpower? Too stupid? Not the right colour? Didn’t have the right connections? Not in the right place at the right time?
I’ve quoted Joanne Kilgour, celebrated Trinidad-born arts practitioner and educator many times but what she says could never be used too many times: “What is FOR you cannot be UNFOR you.” And I do believe that. We all have our place and purpose in the sun, but we need to be mindful of our choices and how aligned we truly are with ourselves.
You’ve got to be YOU.
And don’t use the overused line that you’re afraid of your own brilliance and success so you’re playing a small game. I agree with Dan Waldschmidt, business strategist and speaker who says that “You aren’t afraid of being successful. In fact, you want to be successful more than anything else in the world. Your achieving the best for yourself is wired into the very core of your being. You can’t help it. Subconsciously, and very consciously, your entire being is fighting for you to be successful. You aren’t afraid of being successful. You are afraid of how hard it’s going to be until you get there.”
Whenever we listen to our brilliant self with all its ideas and goals we quickly ask: “How long is this going to take me?” Quickly followed by “what if I spend ALL this time pursuing this, only to arrive at the other end without anything to show for it?” This is the point at which we look to others who’ve done it before, quicker, faster – the magic bullet, the quick fix solution. And we struggle because despite taking the SURE and CERTAIN short-cut to success we feel empty and unfulfilled.
There is only one way: You’ve got to be YOU. To paraphrase Sammy in the last part of the song: “That far-away prize, a world of success is waiting for YOU if YOU heed the call. Don’t settle down; don’t settle for less because there is a chance that YOU can have it all. YOU can’t be right for somebody else, if YOU’RE not right for YOU. Dare to try, to do it or die – You’ve got to be YOU!