How to Be Yourself While Becoming Yourself

New behaviors feel like showing up for dinner dressed like Micky Mouse.

Frustration and disappointment are more comfortable than the discomfort of feeling inauthentic when you try on new leadership behaviors.


People say, “Be yourself.” But how can you be yourself while you’re becoming yourself? You feel obvious. Vulnerable. Fake.


Suppose you learn that successful leaders celebrate small wins and honor hard work, even if it occasionally falls short. But it feels unnatural to celebrate when you’re worried about what might go wrong tomorrow. Celebration feels uncomfortable.

New Shoes:

Trying on new behaviors feels like putting on new shoes. You have to wear them awhile before you forget them.

Those who refuse to press through the awkwardness of new behaviors end up stuck in old patterns. It feels comfortable, but seasons change. Eventually they wear out.

Be yourself while becoming yourself:

Chose transparency over ‘fake it till you make it’.

#1. Reject secrecy. Tell trusted colleagues that you’re working on gratitude, for example. Ask them to watch for new behaviors. 

Strength for the journey includes feeling like someone else is in the boat with you.

#2. Seek feedback on what’s working. For example, someone notices that you’re expressing gratitude more often. Explore their comments. “Thanks for saying that. I’m working on gratefulness. If you don’t mind me asking…

  1. What makes you say that I’m improving?
  2. What should I do more of?
  3. What could be better?

#3. Invite direct reports to help you improve. “I’m working to give affirmations. I appreciate any suggestions you might have.” 

4 Benefits of transparency:

Break the pressure of secrecy with transparency. Secrecy makes you feel like a fraud.

  1. Transparency eliminates the fear of being caught.
  2. Transparency strengthens connections.
  3. Transparency increases humility.
  4. Transparency energizes next steps.

How might leaders try on new behaviors without feeling like fakers?

What new behavior would you like to try on?

CFE Banner