Amplify, don’t modify
A friend recently reached out to me as part of an exercise he was doing. In his email, he asked me to give him feedback on aspects or qualities of himself that I felt he could improve; things for him to work on in order to grow as a person.
While I was sitting there, struggling to figure out things that he might want to consider working on, I had a brief moment of flashbacks. Being 25. Seeking abstract answers on who I was meant to be and searching only outside of myself, as opposed to taking a look at the answers already waiting within.
When we’re younger (but not only), it’s almost as if we’re conditioned to think that what we are, the raw material that we were born with and that we were blessed to carry forward in this life, is just that, raw material. Like clay for us to mould, reshape and resize, the material is often seen as something that could possibly only lay the foundation for who we’re supposed to become, somehow not good enough for us to accept in its untouched form. Quirks and qualities that make us different are often seen as some sort of creases that we’re better off out than owning and being proud of.
What if our perspective shifted from this into one of seeing ourselves as already full and complete; full of the things that make us who we are? And what if growth came about when once we started amplifying what was already there, rather than weeding out and eliminating?
Before I go on, I should say that I’m the first to subscribe to learning and growing; studying those who have walked before us on paths to us unknown, and absorb the wisdom of others. But there’s a difference between adding tools to our already existing toolbox to wanting to replace our toolbox for a shiny new one.
What we often fail to see, and what so much of coaching is about, is that we already are sitting on a wealth of qualities, information and knowledge that are more than enough to create and become the kind of person that we want to be. By honing what we already are, the unique combination of qualities, talents and je ne sais quois’ that only we possess, we are setting ourselves up for a much likelier path to whatever success and fulfilment means to us, than if we are always looking outside of ourselves for the answer to who and how we should be.
Yes, destructive habits and beliefs are better off in the waste bin and replaced with positive and helpful attitudes. Negative thinking can with commitment and dedication be moulded into positive thoughts, something that will make life so much easier for both ourselves and those around us.
But ultimately, isn’t it the innate qualities, the quirks and habits, tastes and talents that are only ours, that make us who we are? I wish that when I was 20 and 25, that someone had told me that the very things that people were reacting to or commenting on, the things that make you different, are exactly the things that you should hold dear, hone, and develop. Do you get told you’re too much like a college professor even though you’re ‘only’ nineteen? Good for you - keep doing what you’re doing and seek out those who appreciate you the way you are. Are you ‘too much’ of a goofball to be taken seriously? Great; maybe you have a future in comedy. The point is not the what, but the who, and the who that makes you you. Don’t modify. Amplify what’s already there, and the rest will take care of itself.