Inspired by What “Be Yourself” Really Means, a cool contemplation about an advice that is usually both, thoughtlessly given and taken.
When I read the mentioned post, I was immediately: OMG! My thoughts exactly! “Be yourself” is just about as helpful as “use your unique talents”. Wanna know why?
Success and failure are created in the context of demand and supply. Be too unique and you may end up alone, with no audience, no demand. Bee too alike, and you may end up with too much competition to get a decent start.
I believe there are internal and external factors to success.
Externally, competition, and our ability to consist in a competitive environment, constitute the cornerstone of success. It seems what matters is not what sets us apart, but the things on which we are in competition with others. Succeeding with no competition is easy (if there is demand). But do you have what it takes to rival your competitors? If you are a classy artist, and your art is unique, but you suck at self-marketing, what are your chances of succeeding?
Internally, socio-psychological factors may boost or limit your success. If you compete with others in a field that they are passionate about, but you aren’t, then your chances are probably not that good either.
On the other hand, you can’t help but “being yourself”. Even when you try to become someone else, you are yourself, because that attempt is part of your personality at that given time. Which renders the “be yourself” advice kinda pointless, doesn’t it?
A much better, and much more helpful metaphor is “You can start a journey only from where you stand.” Assessing who we are is the first step towards becoming who we want to be.