There is plenty of noise out there about growth. How do we get better? In what ways should we get better? Shouldn't I just be myself? What should I do to myself? How can I know myself?
When we seek to improve ourselves, we often take to the internet to find some idea of how to go about it. We often look for something pithy. I know I do. I have found a few of the mantras that work for me: 1%, Get to, and me third.
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James Clear has this idea about getting 1% better every day. 1% is doable. 1% more is manageable. More importantly, you can apply it to any aspect of your life. Darci has focused on authenticity and being yourself. Well, if you want to be more authentic, take it 1% at a time. So, tomorrow, that 1% might be writing down who you think you are. The next day it might be asking someone to tell you about who they are. I love 1% because it has allowed me to makes my goals manageable. I would look at the end goal and get overwhelmed. We quit when our goals seem insurmountable. 1% negates that by giving you achievable daily goals. 1% is also based on where you are from day-to-day. It gives you the opportunity to make it personal. You know where you stand and that makes your 1% based on yourself at any given moment and no one else and no other moment.1% allows consistent growth.
Jon Gordon frequently posts about having the attitude of getting to instead of having to. "Get to" is really hard for me. I always list off all the things "I have" to do, "I have to exercise, I have this thing to do at work, I have to do the laundry." "Get to" is multi-faceted because it gets you to take a more positive and grateful approach to whatever you are doing. In the case of authenticity, a "get to" approach means that you GET TO do those things! You don't have to call anyone, you don't have to listen more, and you don't have to learn more about yourself. You get to do those things. This may seem hokey, but it really can change your approach to any task ahead of you. What a blessing (privilege if you prefer that term) it is to get to go to work. The same goes for approaching authenticity. We "get to" set our goals and we "get to" pursue them. No one is forcing us to do anything.
Finally, Father Larry Richards (Gasp, religion!) frequently says "me third" during his homilies. Again, this is a difficult one. You can ignore the first one if you aren't religious. Spoiler alert: The Catholic priest teaches his parishioners to put God first. If you are religious, then you already know your marching orders, but even if you aren't religious, you need to believe in something bigger than yourself: the universe, karma, or some third thing. By putting something bigger than ourselves first in our lives, we can become more authentic. Furthermore, we should make space in society to have discussions about things bigger than ourselves. Now, this is a double-edged sword; don't push ideas on people and don't squash people for sharing their beliefs. Neither one allows people to be who they really are. Being authentic doesn't mean you have to quash someone else's worldview every opportunity you receive. You don't come across as intelligent or full of conviction. You come across as a jerk (Believe me, I learned this the hard way).
Our second focus is on others. Put those around you second. For example, in a conversation, allow space for someone else's thoughts and opinions. Really. Having to be right all the time is exhausting. Focusing on things outside of yourself is important to any personal development. Living for yourself will deprive you of being as happy as you could be. If you want to be authentic, then give others the chance to do so. Treat other people the way you wanted to be treated. As far as authenticity goes, do this because you get to and not because you have to. Putting others first can be achieved at 1% a day. Make it authentic through repetition.
Finally, YOU! You are a priority too! How can you live this out authentically? Fake it till you make it. Even if you aren't religious, find something bigger than yourself and live to serve those around you. This is a hard one, but to quote my idol, Michael Chekhov, "Repetition is the Growing Power." This practice is especially important in a time when we've tried to revolve the world around ourselves. As far as authenticity, how can we ever hope to achieve it if we don't give space for others to pursue it? Take care of yourself. Don't let that get lost in this idea. "Me Third" won't work for everyone because a lot of people already put themselves last and could use more attention to themselves. I, on the other hand, struggle with selfishness and need ways to practice selflessness.
These are the mantras that have impacted me. I chose them because they address specific fears and shortcomings I have. You don't have to use these ideas because your shortcomings may not be the same. In fact, if they don't resonate with you, throw them away and find ones that do. I've heard lots of them. Some suck, some don't fire me up. These three do because they give me something to try to attain every day. I'm still frequently a selfish, negative, and fearful person, but having these ideals have helped me to stay focused on addressing these shortcomings, but to do so, you first have to be willing to admit them.
Chad Marriot is a freelance writer and editor of Fast Breaks and Billy Shakes. He is also a regional theatre actor, tutor, and educator. Check out Fast Breaks and Billy Shakes for Sports, Marvel, Shakespeare, and other wacky content.