I’ve got four children, all raised in the same environment by the same two parents. Each of them has grown up in the same home, is presented with similar opportunities and has the same influences coming from extended family. Yet they’re all very different from one another. Each is blessed with a unique personality and temperament. And, though each of them will take different paths and make different decisions, in the end their success in life will be determined by how they leverage their own unique set of innate traits. Each of us is born with certain traits that make us unique.
Now, there is a school of thought that suggests that these inborn personality traits predispose us to either success or failure in life. They say that some people are built for greatness and have an innate ability to overcome adversity. A somewhat tempered but similar view might suggest that in certain situations, the innate personality of one will succeed and the personality of the other will fail. I completely reject this notion. The real effect of these differences is not in the probability of their ultimate success, but in how they achieve that success.
This truth is clearly visible in the world of entertainment. Thousands of unique individuals from diverse backgrounds with one of a kind personalities are able to excel in their own way. Take Woody Allen and Arnold Schwarzenegger: Both had long and successful acting careers but it isn’t difficult to see that Arnold couldn’t succeed the way Woody did and Woody couldn’t succeed the way Arnold did. But they were both successful. They harnessed the very things that made them who they were (and are). Arnold used is muscles and thick accent to portray characters in action films. Woody utilized his storytelling ability and quirky sense of humor to become an incredibly successful director, screenwriter, actor and comedian. They both found a way that was both authentic and effective.
In my children, I see both introversion and extroversion. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t handle the same struggles. They can work through identical challenges in very different ways; one is not predisposed for abundance while the other is destined for scarcity. There are countless ways to address any challenge. They can learn anything they want and apply their unique personalities to succeeding at it. And so can you.
The key is to stop trying to be like someone else and start being you. Woody won’t tackle a problem the way Arnold does. Neither should you attempt to chase a dream or solve a problem the same way someone else does. Sure, there is a huge amount of guidance you can get from friends, books, online videos and any number of other things. There’s value in gleaning from the experiences of others. But, the greatest successes will come when you incorporate those strategies into your own personality. If you’re quiet by nature, you don’t have to be boisterous and loud. If you’re aggressive, you don’t have to be meek. You will need to step outside your comfort zone in order to harness the strength in those traits, but you don’t have to change who you are at your core. So many people spend years trying to be someone they’re not and end up frustrated, unhappy and unfulfilled. Stay true to who you are. Be authentic.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to share them in the comments!