Anyone who’s been in the trenches as an entrepreneur, or hanging out in entrepreneurial circles for even just a little while, knows that there are several go-to phrases the business minded share to encourage others or find motivation for themselves.
Chief among those is one by famed motivational speaker Les Brown:
You don’t get what you want in life. You get who you are!Les Brown
The problem with this kind of bumper sticker quote is that the true meaning often gets lost by oversimplified interpretation.
Some may think “who you are” is all about character and integrity – which it most certainly is, but it’s also deeper than that.
Are you someone living in harmony with what you believe in? Someone loving? Someone resentful? Someone forgiving? Someone full of rage? Someone who believes in your potential and works at it daily? Someone who surrenders to victim mentality? Someone living a compartmentalized life, or in awareness that how you do one thing is how you do everything?
I could go on, but you get the point. There’s a lot more to “who you are” than meets the eye.
So, the problem with the oversimplified interpretation most people default to when considering what “you get who you are” really means – which usually resembles something like “I’m a hard worker, honest, and good person, therefore if I’m not getting the results I want, there must be something wrong with who I am” – is that it can create a whole set of harmful and limiting beliefs that affects one’s self-image and perpetuate a never-ending cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies.
Put simply, it can lead a person down a path of self-doubt and internal questioning that ultimately takes them nowhere productive in terms of solving the problems they’re facing and feed a victim-filled narrative.
While digging within to find who we are being and showing up as in the world is a prerequisite to lasting success and significance, it’s equally important to know how to separate the person from the behavior and to raise our level of awareness.
In my personal journey, I have discovered that swapping the unhelpful mindset that “I’m clearly not good enough, or else I’d be getting the results I want in life” (which begs the misguided question “Who am I supposed to be instead?”)…
For a single, and very simple, non-judgmental and curiosity-filled question focused on getting to the bottom of all of these things can be literally life-changing. And the question is this:
What am I tolerating?
Let this sink in for a bit.
We all tolerate a whole host of things in all areas of our lives every day.
Some things are so ingrained in us, through force of habit or cultural norms, that we are totally oblivious to them and how they’re holding us back.
For example, if you grew up in a family or culture that believes money doesn’t grow on trees or is the root of all evil, you might be tolerating undercharging for your services and not being as profitable, not working with the most ideal clients, or not having the kind of time and financial freedom you yearn for…
Because this underlying belief has programmed you into believing (and acting accordingly) that you must work hard for your money and that you can’t charge high fees for what you do because that would mean you’re greedy or a bad person.
See how this works?
You can assess and dissect your entire reality and get to the cause of all the effects you’re feeling in just about every area of your life and business if you’re courageous enough to be honest with yourself in answering this question.
Because it’s that insight-driven and powerful. And it really moves the needle in terms of identifying the real problems and empowering you to seek and find solutions for them.
If you pay close attention, you’ll notice there’s nothing about asking yourself “What am I tolerating?” that makes who you are wrong. Explicitly or implicitly. Directly, or subliminally.
The question is ultimately about your attitudes, thinking, and behaviors, not about who you are.
You may well find, in answering the question, that you’re tolerating not being the best version of yourself that you can be. That you’re tolerating degrading or being nasty to yourself. That you’re not treating yourself with kindness and compassion. And that, all of those things are, in fact, affecting who you are BEING in the world…
But there’s a massive difference between realizing this is only happening because you’re tolerating less than what you’re deserving or capable of, and the self-sabotaging implication that your undesirable reality is a reflection of you not being good enough.
Or of you being broken. Or bad. Or dumb. Or not smart enough. Or undeserving. Or unworthy. Or **fill-in-the-blank-with-the-negative-quality-of-your-choice**.
The truth is you are enough. You are worthy. You are equipped. You are resourced.
And even if your results are not reflecting your desires or goals, that says nothing about the possibilities or your actual potential – only about your current level of awareness, which is working as your ceiling.
So, I would argue that:
You don’t get what you want in life. You get what you tolerate.
That’s a far healthier assessment of reality, and one that will change your entire life and business…
If you let it.