Be the First You

Discovering YouNo amount of baldness will make you Seth Godin.

No amount of booger jokes will make you Dave Barry.

No amount of perkiness will make you Rachael Ray.

That’s because you aren’t them. You’re you.

And contrary to what you may believe, that’s an excellent thing to be.

The Only Thing You Can Genuinely Be Is You

When I was doing creativity coaching, I’d hear one phrase over and over:

I want to be the next _____________.”

The blank would be filled with the name of some latest-and-greatest, or some past master.

It’s good to have models. But don’t confuse the model for the actual thing.

Those models capitalized on their own unique gifts and world view. You should be doing the same.

They may have started out with more than you. Or they may have started out with less. Just the fact that you have the freedom to be reading these words puts you miles ahead of most of the world. It’s up to you to get the most out of what you have.

What Would YOU Do?

We often approach a situation by looking at how it would we handled by someone else.

It might be helpful to explore how someone you admire would approach it, just to get some perspective. But trusting yourself and your own judgment is crucial to success.

Try this…

Imagine that you are going to be magically teleported to some random foreign country. You have 30 minutes to formulate a plan in your head before you’re whisked away. You’ll be given the equivalent of $100 in local currency.

What would your plan entail? Would you:

  • Be thinking about shelter, and the pragmatics of surviving?
  • Focus on how to use the money to hire others to help you?
  • Not concern yourself with details, but be thinking about all the great local cuisine?

The way you plan your imaginary excursion will tell you a lot about how you think. What you know about your skills. Where your weaknesses are.

How you tackle the unknown is a clue into how you approach life.

First and Foremost, You Are You

You have to work in the framework of reality, no matter how hard it might be. The reality is that you are you — not someone else.

Instead of trying to figure out how to be the next someone else, focus on being the first you. Being the first in your own success is so much better than being the hand-me-downs of someone else’s.


  1. I’m beginning to get a good feel for who I am by writing in a personal blog. It’s great, once you start getting reactions to things and when you start writing and you suddenly realize “Wow, I’ve really got my own voice.”

    I think you is the best you you can be.

  2. Agreed! We get so caught up sometimes about doing things the way others think we should do them, rather than how we believe they should be done.

    Using a role model to figure out what to do helps to a certain point, but sometimes progress is relied on the maverick. One of my favorite quotes:

    The reasonable man tries to conform to the world, while the unreasonable man tries to make the world conform to him. Therefore, all progress relies upon the unreasonable man.

  3. This post resonates within me.

    It’s kinda like when you hear about Bill Gates dropping out of college. Then all of the sudden your mind makes the connection. Billionaires must drop out of college. Even though this is highly likely without merit. You are not Bill Gates, you did not experience life the way he did. You are most likely completely different.

    All we can really do is learn from their qualities but then use them to become a better you. The problem is when you put your mental well being dependent on “beating” somebody. You’ll probably never get there because it’s not possible. It’s a trap for a life of endless pain and worry.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. Have a great weekend. 🙂

  4. Tanner – The expression and the conversation can be exercises for self discovery.

    Al – Great quote.

    Carl – Your path will always be different, even when you try to follow the path of another.

  5. I think so many people (myself included) get stuck in the I can’t do that because someone’s already doing it. Everyone brings their own unique nuance to what they are doing. Consumers are attracted to different things — nothing is more attractive that someone who lets their genuine self shine through.

    Nice post!

  6. Your hypothetical question is a fascinating exercise. In your experience, how often do people immediately know their answer, versus having to really think about it?

  7. I write to connect with myself…I get lonely if I don’t do it. So my blog is just a new version of my journal, where I can explore ideas and hopefully share them with others. It’s nice when people resonate with something I write, but it’s not necessary. Their reaction is in the hands of the gods. My job is simply to keeping writing.

  8. This is great advice Tony.

    It takes great learning to realise that we are IT… we are the thing we are looking for, which is coincidentally the greatest gift we can give to the world.

    I love this Quote from Eckhart Tolle which speaks of the same thing:
    “To meet everyone and everything through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can give to the Universe. I call it stillness, but it is a jewel with many facets: that stillness is also joy, and it is love.”

  9. This was a really good post – I loved the imaginary incursion play game. Great idea!

    This reasonated with me because I had recently written an article at my blog about how we tend to compare ourselves to others and why that’s a bad thing to do. It’s more important to realize we’re exactly where we are right now and not to compare ourselves to others.

    Great job!!!! P.S. If you’re interested in the article I wrote that complements yours, send me an email and I’ll give you the link.


  10. Meredith – True. Your unique approach will cause something to resonate with someone in a way that no one else can.

    Brad – I’ve found that the immediate answer is much more accurate than after a lot of thought is put into it. That’s why I like the 30 minute constraint.

    Jean – By connecting with yourself, you’ll always find someone else who also feels the connection.

    Nick – That’s absolutely right. All creativity arises from that place of stillness and awareness.

    Stephen – Sounds like a great article. I definitely would be interested in reading it.

  11. Tony, thanks for championing the “you” in all of us – that is the “true me” and the “true you.”

    For me, age helps. As a teen, I was clueless about the notion of being myself. As a mid-lifer, it’s getting easier, AND more uncomfortable when I’m not being all of me.

  12. You are right, so many people focus on wanting to be like someone, or wanting to be who others want them to be. It has taken me a long time to break that mould, and focus on who I am, and what I want to do. Great post!

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