Coming out. No matter who you are, Mike Iamele says that these two words are critical to your success.
A few months ago, I was interviewed for a book that will help 20-something entrepreneurs launch their companies. In typical fashion, I hadn’t given much thought to what I’d say before the interview started.
“So what advice do you have for new entrepreneurs to be successful?”
My mind drew a blank. That’s a pretty loaded question. At least take me to dinner first, jeez.
I thought for a moment—just long enough to not yet be awkward silence—and then I replied, “Self-acceptance.” I went on and on about the critical importance of self-acceptance in entrepreneurship because nothing feels right when it isn’t you. And, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not going to work right. We live in a world where everyone is a so-called expert. Everyone knows the best way to do anything—from effectively launching, to building your following, to even your personal relationships.
It’s a disempowered time when we often opt for the experienced advice over our own gut instincts. And, in entrepreneurship, that approach usually makes you fall flat on your ass. So that was my advice.
But, since then, I’ve thought a lot about how much I actually follow my own advice—not just in my business, but in my personal life too.
I don’t know about you, but self-acceptance has always been a toughie for me. I grew up wanting to be popular, well-liked—envied, even. I waned people to notice me, and I wanted to matter.
I spent years hiding some aspects of myself in favor of the more socially acceptable ones. In college, I boozed heavily, I said funny lines, I hooked up with random girls. I never admitted to anyone that I’d rather sit home with a good book or in a café discussing philosophy and spirituality. I was only 20, after all. I remember my dad said to me once after yet another existential crisis, “Michael, what more do you want? You’re 20, your only responsibility right now is to have fun.”
It took me 24 years to ever say the phrase, “I think I’m smart” out loud. It took me even longer to think that a thin body like mine could be attractive. I struggled with embarrassment if I wasn’t good at any sport because I felt like I was supposed to be. I closed up immediately if I felt judged by people.
Many people have called me brave for “coming out” with my story about Garrett. And, sure, it took some courage. But it wasn’t even my hardest confession. Aren’t we all always coming out about something? Aren’t we all always striving for deeper and deeper levels of self-acceptance?
Coming out about that fact I wanted to leave my amazing job to go write and coach people, or that I wanted to stop drinking, or that I have a deeply spiritual and intuitive side were all a lot harder than talking about Garrett.
We’re all peeling back the layers. We’re all digging deeper. We’re all trying to accept ourselves as best as possible—in a world that rewards what is popular and easily understood.
My confessions are no better and no worse than yours. It’s not really about the confession at all; it’s about the courage it takes to admit that one thing. And, for each of us, that changes from one admission to the next.
And the only way to get really good at courage is to practice.
I am so lucky. Every day, I get to stand up here and practice being courageous. I get to peel back another layer. I get to admit something new and terrifying so that you can know me on a deeper level. But, mostly, so that I can know me on a deeper level. So that I can accept more and more of myself.
Because the truth—the truth that finance and productivity books never tell you—is that success is more intimately tied up with self-acceptance than with anything else.
The fastest way to success is to know who you are completely, love that person, and then share it all with the world. Be exactly who you are. Because success, or at least any sustainable version of it, is really about happiness. And you can’t be happy if you don’t accept who you are.
So, yes, my advice to new entrepreneurs—and to the world at-large—is to just accept yourself. To trust yourself. To listen to your gut instincts. To peel back those layers. To let people inside. To show your true colors. And to not be afraid to stand up for what’s really there.
The truth is we don’t want a half-rate version of someone else. We want you. The real you. In fact, that’s all we’ve ever wanted from you.
We’ve just been waiting for you to show up.
Originally posted at bostonwellnesscoach.com.
Photo courtesy of the author.