Be yourself – everyone else is taken.

That line has been attributed to various people – Thomas Merton, Oscar Wilde – but whoever it was, I’m truly grateful. And if asked, its what I’d encourage anyone to do.

How often have you felt yourself compromising or adapting just that bit too far to suit someone else – maybe your boss, a colleague or loved one?

When I gave up full time employment a couple of years ago to focus on setting up my own coaching business, I was bombarded with a boatload of information on “the right way” to do it and how I needed to “be” as a coach. Inevitably, out there on the interweb, I could find all sorts of stories about others’ experiences, mile long lists of dos and don’ts and endless insights on marketing – especially the marketing. Some said I needed to be all over social media and others, the complete opposite.

I learned a lot but I also felt a bit at sea every now and then: am I really doing the right thing here? am I on the right track? why doesn’t this feel right? What I kept coming back to – and what stood out for me from all the webinars and blogs – was to just be myself.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Just be yourself. What does that mean?

To be yourself has much to do with knowing what’s important to you, what your values are, those unshakeable principles by which you live your life. When coaching, I find that very often people haven’t consciously explored or named their values but when they do, it can become so much easier to understand what’s causing the dissonance in their lives.

How often have you felt the discomfort that arises with knowing that the choice you just made wasn’t quite right – it’s not quite “you”?

You may be living according to values which you have unconsciously adopted from others or even be clinging to, because of an underlying fear. For example, loyalty may be a top value for you because you have experienced the negative consequences of disloyalty in the past and so live in fear of that happening again – this could significantly impact the choices you make.

Knowing your own, personal values will support you to make decisions which align with those values and so enable you to live your life the way you want to – not in the way that others might expect.

Becoming consciously aware of your values is one very powerful way to embrace what it means to be yourself. Know your values and follow your instincts about what’s right for you – not what you think others may expect of you. Stepping into those values may take courage and practice but in the long run, it will be worth it. I’m still practicing – that’s what builds the confidence I need to be myself – but I’ve made much better and easier decisions since I got to know my values. And I coach my clients to do the same.

The world needs you, not an over-compromised, “adjusted to fit in” version of you.

Be yourself – everyone else is taken.