THE BLOG

Stop Being an Ugly Duckling

02/07/2014 11:25 BST | Updated 01/09/2014 10:59 BST

Too often we compare ourselves to others and put ourselves down when we are not achieving the success that we want. Whether this is in our careers, our businesses, our relationships or even in the way that we look.

When I was a small child I used to love the story about the ugly duckling but back then I didn't understand its significance. For those of you who don't know the story, it is about a cygnet (baby swan) who, when it is born is raised by a duck. Because it is different to all the other ducklings, it gets told that it is ugly. It is only when it finds other swans just like it that it realises just how beautiful it is. Because it was different, it didn't recognise that it was in fact beautiful.

We chip away at our self belief when we compare ourselves to others and put ourselves down

When we put ourselves down by comparing ourselves to others, it chips away at our self belief, making us believe that we are not good enough or that we will never succeed.

We hold on to that belief and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy because we then lack the confidence to do the things that will bring us the success that we crave.

How many times have you told yourself 'I'm not as good as...' or how many times have you said 'I will never achieve...' If this is you, it is time to stop being the ugly duckling that you think you are and be the beautiful swan that you are meant to be.

We are all individually and uniquely made

We are all individually and uniquely made and we all have something that we are good at, something that we can shine at. But when you try to be something that you are not, it is not authentic and will manifest itself either in the way that you feel or the way that you come across.

I had a client who was a very creative person but was working in a very bureaucratic environment. She was constantly stressed as she felt that she was not up to scratch. This resulted in her working excessive hours and taking work home with her, all because of her insecurities regarding her decision making abilities.

If she had to deliver on a particular project or task, she would check things over and over again as she did not feel confident about whether she had done it right. This was stifling her creativity and she would look at colleagues thinking that they got on with things so effortlessly.

But what she didn't know was what her colleagues were going through in order to deliver their results. Because she was only seeing the final product, she had no understanding or knowledge of the journey it took for them to deliver such outstanding work.

Every time she saw them produce such quality work in a way that seemed so effortless, it would send her into a quandary where she would question her own ability and whether she was good enough to do the job.

She was making assumptions without the evidence to support her beliefs

What made it worse was that she was not getting any feedback from her manager, neither good nor bad. She was making assumptions without the evidence to support her beliefs. Furthermore, she was trying to be something that just was not her. She was trying to put on a persona of someone who was very structured and very methodical and this was suffocating her because it just was not her.

She was trying to be a duckling when she was in fact a swan.

Recognising that there was no evidence to support her beliefs took away the anxiety around the work that she was doing. Accepting herself for who she was and acknowledging that she was different to her colleagues and that they all had their own uniqueness, helped her to stop comparing herself to them. She was able to deliver results equally as good as her colleagues, it was just that she may take a different route to get there.

Stop trying to be someone that you are not

If you find that you constantly compare yourself to others and as a result, put yourself down or try to be like them, remember you are not them and you do not know their internal journey to get to where they are. You are you, unique and individually made.

Stop trying to be someone that you are not. Be true to yourself, be your authentic self and recognise yourself for the beautiful swan that you are.

How true to yourself are you? How authentic are you in your approach to your work? By getting an understanding of what your values are and how aligned to your values you are (or are not) will help you to transition in to being who you truly are.

For help clarifying what your values are or what really matters to you, complete this exercise here.