‘Just be yourself, and everything will be fine’, you often hear people say. It is said usually by caring people, and mostly at critical moments for us. Moments that test us and reveal weaknesses or showcase our strengths.
For example, when preparing for an audition, an important interview, casting, or a competition. What then? Just be yourself? Really? Can this be enough? Although these are much more comfortable and fun settings compared to fire-fighters saving people from havoc, or special forces operations in nearly lethal zones, it is these settings that leave most candidates breathless in anxiety.
Let’s begin from the end, then. What should the conclusion be in case of failure? You just weren’t yourself? It was lack of authenticity that turned you into a hopeful and not a finalist or a medalist?
If you follow the ‘be yourself’ advice and remain yourself, that current self will enter the trial uncertain, fearful, and probably with the subconscious desire to fail. This is what our instincts dictate in such moments, to facilitate as much a quick exit from the tense environment as possible. And the only reason instincts take over is that our brain has detected a significant lack of preparation. Mental, psychological, emotional, technical, physical, or even spiritual.
But let’s suppose for a moment that you remain yourself and find the courage to bring that self to the test. Which version did you bring? The alert or the sleepy? The groomed or the scruffy? The fit, after hours of training, or the lazy and unprepared? After all, every version is you. Or it Can be you, once you make that choice and follow through.
Again, according to most advisors who seem to care for you, if you fail, at least you failed by being you. Perhaps ‘candidates’ need such a comforting pillow for the aftermath of any trial. And most caring people would provide it. The only problem is… winners enter trials as winners and not as ‘candidates.’
Winners do not envision, think, plan, and prepare for a fall and how to recover. They aim for victory, and nothing else exists in their mind. Every failure is a temporary delay of future success and a valuable lesson to capitalize upon. Certainly, not an injury of any kind.
If we want to cultivate future champions, we need to push them to take the highway as we follow and support them all the way through. Not by comforting the pain of little bruises. And by using intelligent, provoking, targeted methods to train them, the cruelty and strict discipline of former times also become unnecessary.
The Three things to ask are: 1) Meet the expectations. 2) Do it only by becoming much more than what was initially asked of you. 3) And then Rise. In other words, offer your gift to others by presenting your case.
For those who succeed, such moments of achievement and contribution bring tears of joy, stay forever in their minds, and probably in our own as we watch them making history in their field. And similar feelings fill the hearts of those who may have failed to reach such absolute golden standards but still managed to improve so much that they challenged the champion, almost reaching First place.
You see, they may have been marginally outperformed by the current top winner, but they are winners themselves, far better and greater than what they used to be before entering such a monumental trial.
So, is ‘honesty’ a factor when it comes to performance? Of course not. How could it? After facing fierce competition, and prevailing, you are not the same person you were at the time this useless advice was given. And now nobody can tell you to ‘just be yourself’ anymore because you wouldn’t want to be anyone else anyway.
And neither would they.