You would have heard (generally from motivational speakers) about the need to be true to yourself. Common terms used are:
Be true to yourself
You can only be yourself, everybody else is taken
I can go on and also I agree with most of the statements but with a caveat. If you want to feel good about yourself and exercise freedom of speech or freedom of expression then go ahead by all means. Nobody can stop you.
If you are thinking of meaningful accomplishments, the above theory paints only half the picture. There is a blind spot to avoid with the above approach and if you don’t take care to notice it, you will be happy with yourself but may not make a lot of progress.
Let me explain.
The rebel in you
The rebel streak is in all of us. It is in me. It is in you. Sometimes you may get carried away and start taking actions just because you can! Examples include tattoos anywhere and everywhere, punk hairstyle, wearing clothes that literally makes no sense etc.
If anyone asks you, you can try to get away by seeing you are true to being yourself.
The blind spot
In your quest to being true to yourself, you can forget about the marketplace you are operating in. The marketplace operates on a simple principle – exchange of value. You bring value to the marketplace and you get back value – typically in the form of cash. You bring more value in the marketplace (and market it right) the marketplace will bring more value back into your life.
The marketplace does not care about whether you are being true to yourself. It is busy transacting for value with all the players.
There is an exception to the rule which I will cover a bit later.
Finding your element
The magic is actually in the intersection of “being who you are” and “what the marketplace values a lot.” When you find that element, life is truly magical.
When you are being yourself, the effort is at a minimum because you are just being YOU. At one level it becomes “play” for you. Something that’s fun.
When being YOU is creating value in the marketplace, that intersection becomes a “play that pays a premium.”
It’s play for you; huge value for them.
What more can you ask for?
The place for other kinds of uniqueness
As I signaled earlier, there is a place for other kinds of uniqueness and that comes after you are well known for meaningful contributions in a particular field.
You are a world famous guitar player and you like to have crazy tattoos on your forearms. It becomes interesting.
You are one of the best negotiators in the world and you have punk hairstyle. It becomes interesting again.
You are a serial entrepreneur that has taken a couple of companies to IPO and you have your tongue pierced. It becomes very interesting.
The quirks were not necessary, but they sure become “interesting” points of discussion and draw attention.
You can’t try to reverse the story and go for the quirks before you create value in the marketplace. The sequence in this case is VERY important.