by Deborah Hartung, founder of Pivot PeopleTech
Don’t be Decaf. Don’t water yourself down so that you don’t offend others. Don’t act in a way that is out of integrity with who you are, just so that you can “fit in”. People can spot a fake a mile away. And I don’t mean a good Louis Vuitton knock-off bag, here. I mean a fake person.
From the minute we are able to walk and talk, we are bombarded with messages about who we should be, how we should behave and what we should look like, in order to ‘fit in’ in the world. We are told not to talk to loud or to act to proud, not to be too opinionated or not stand up for ourselves, lest we upset someone else in the process. Schools and parents and churches and magazines tell us what to think and believe and how to behave - to the point where when we finally grow up we don’t really know who we are and how much of what we believe has been fed to us by some authority figure.
So, what happens? We become these grey little cardboard cut-out people who follow the crowd. We wear whatever is in fashion, we don’t speak our minds, we don’t upset the applecart too much. We obey and comply and downplay and deny – all in the name of ‘fitting in’,
Our essence and what makes us colourful and beautiful and magnificent and magical is all but removed entirely, leaving behind a shell of a person, just to live up to whatever standard has been set for us – much like the process that is used to decaffeinate coffee beans. There are numerous different processes used throughout the world on these beautiful green coffee beans, to remove 98% of the caffeine – the very essence of the coffee – before the beans are roasted and turned into Decaf. All this, just so that people may enjoy a beverage that looks and smells and even tastes like coffee, but without the ‘nasty’ kick that caffeine has.
And no, I am not criticising people who drink Decaf!
Really, please, go ahead and drink whatever it is that you enjoy – it’s part of being who you are and doing things that make you happy.
What I am saying a big, fat NO to, is playing small and not speaking your truth or downplaying your intelligence or not standing up for yourself, just so you can ‘fit in’. The truth of the matter is that we are all born unique individuals and we all stand out in our own special way. Your greatest power is your YOUniqueness! There is nobody who thinks the thoughts you do or sees the world exactly as you do or has your voice or your life story and that alone, in and of itself, makes you super special, just as you are, right now.
Now, before you have a nervous breakdown and think that your entire life has been a lie or that you are a big phony, please let me help you to find who you really are and help you to be the most authentic version of yourself.
Oprah recently said that: “What I know for sure, is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
Are you ready to start living your truth? Here’s the 5 step starter pack version:
Get to know yourself
Figure out what your values are in this life and what is really important to you. Learn about your personality type and how you communicate and how you behave in conflict situations. When do you feel the most alive and the most like the best version of ‘you’? Whatever the answer is, do more of that!
Clear the Clutter
The next step in the journey to ‘self’ is to clear all the clutter and all the things that are holding you back. Clean out your space and get rid of the jeans from back in your ‘thin days’. Even if you fit into them again in a few months, chances are they are out of style or they just don’t reflect who you are anymore. Let that shit go, girl!. Get rid of possessions you don’t need. Donate things to people who really do need them. Banish all the old thoughts and beliefs that keep you insecure and playing small. Finally, say goodbye to all the people who are draining your energy and who make you feel demotivated, tired or stressed. Make space for new things, new people and new experiences in your life. Make space for your tribe!
Do the Work
If you have identified aspects of your life that need improvement – be it relationships or your health and wellbeing or perhaps your technical knowledge and expertise – make sure that you learn new things and that you do the work to improve in those areas so that you can be the absolute best version of YOU that you can be. Set goals for yourself and work relentlessly to break free from your limitations and discover the strength that you never knew you had.
Find your Tribe
You may think that you are alone, but I can promise you that there are other people just like you, with the same interests, the same fears and the same dreams. Shine your light, be your authentic self so you can attract the people who are your tribe. Find people who encourage you and make you want to do better and be better, but who, at the same time, don’t make you feel bad about who you are right now, at this very moment. Find friends, mentors and influencers who will help you along your path to living your best life and being the best YOU.
This one is hard. I know. But give it a try, please. Realize that you are wonderful and amazing and worthy of love right now, just as you are. Give yourself the love and empathy and acceptance and support that you are so freely giving to others.
I’m not going to lie to you. Living your truth and being who you truly are, isn’t always going to be easy. There will be people who don’t respond well to your truth. You may miss out on business or contracts or work or even what appeared to have been promising relationships, just like Ellen DeGeneres did, back in the 1990’s when she decided that she wouldn’t be living her truth if she didn’t come out as a gay woman.
What I can promise you, however, is that there is freedom to be found in being your true, authentic self, And an amazing thing happens. The more authentic you are and the more vulnerable you are in showing your true colours, the more like-minded people you attract. It’s true what they say: “your vibe attracts your tribe”. So who cares if the type of ‘lady’ that you are wears no makeup and never goes to the gym, or drinks tequila and uses the f-word like a comma? So what if you look like a new-born giraffe if you try and walk in heels and therefore prefer to always wear flats? All of these little quirks are the things that make you, YOU and the more you give yourself permission to be who you truly are, the more you will find that you give others permission to do the same thing.
The musician, Pink, said it best: Embrace the freak that you are!”
So go ahead, sisters. Shine your freak light so that the other freaks can find you!
Don’t water yourself down so that you can keep others happy. Don’t be decaf!
Be the beautiful, colourful, unique, magnificent and strong human being you were born to be!
Deborah Hartung is a consultant, coach, author and speaker, and the founder of Pivot PeopleTech. She loves helping entrepreneurs find their unique voice and leadership style in order to empower them to create amazing places where people truly want to work. She has spent the majority of her career in HR and labour relations management and consulting, gaining experience in all fields related to the human experience in the workplace. While her main focus remains on consulting, coaching and training in the HR and labour relations space, Deborah is passionate about people and technology and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age. Professionally, Deborah is known as an HR turnaround specialist with a proven track record in improving workplace culture, employee engagement and organisational effectiveness.