In the news recently a young boy named Ahmed Mohamed from Texas caused a stir when he brought a clock he'd made to his school and it was mistaken by his teacher to be something else, resulting in him being arrested, "I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. I'm very sad that she got the wrong impression of it" said Ahmed. At the time Ahmed may have questioned his actions or felt pangs of regret for showcasing his creation.
Within 24 hours charges were dropped and he'd sparked not only the attention from the press but also created a worldwide trend. Over 700,000 people have since tweeted #istandwithahmed he also captured attention from Silicon Valley, home to many of the world's largest high-tech corporations resulting in an offer for an internship at Twitter, a meet and greet with Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, President Obama at the Whitehouse and a welcome mat rolled out at Google to attend their science fair, they were all impressed with his ambition to try something new.
What may have originally seemed like an epic faux pas has in fact opened the door to a world of praise and opportunity. Ahmed's story is a welcomed reminder that exploring different ways of doing things; being open to innovation and allowing ourselves to stand out from the crowd has its benefits.
Like Ahmed, how can we have the courage to step up, dare to be different and stay true to ourselves instead of trying to mould ourselves into something we're not?
Here are my top three tips to stay true to you:
What do you stand for?
As we grow older we can sometimes adopt beliefs, outlooks and perceptions that may not resonate with us anymore. Take time to get clear on your CURRENT values and write them down. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- What's important to the way you live and work?
- What are your top three priorities?
- What are you passionate about?
- Are your values in alignment with your actions?
Stopping to assess who you are, what you stand for and what you want helps you to identify what your values are, so that the things you do and the way you behave are congruent, helping you to feel more confident about how you are showing up in the world. Taking time to get clear on your values can provide you with the courage to remain true to what you stand for and go after what you want in life.
Dare to be different
Some of this century's greatest talents such as Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga have and were innovators, they dared to take risks, to go against the opinions of others, to do things differently and get things going. It was their courage to allow their dreams to be bigger than their fears that made them successful. We all have talents and aspirations big or small and we have the power to step outside of our comfort zone, accept that we may not be able to please everyone and show the world that we're here to GO FOR IT! Daring to be different is about remaining true to you; whether that's the way you express your talents or ideas. It's about taking a leap of faith and allowing yourself to make a difference in your life or the life of others simply by being who you are.
Your voice matters
In an age full of status updates, re-tweets and blog posts it's never been easier to bravely speak about what you like, what you want and what your boundaries are, yet many of us may not believe that our voice matters. Maybe you recall times that you wish you'd spoken up more honestly, more bravely or more assertively but fear took over. We can sometimes focus more on the immediate cost of speaking up rather than the long term cost of silence. When you allow yourself to believe that your voice matters, you're able to more confidently express what you're passionate about and what you stand for instead of allowing the opinions and beliefs of others to limit you or define your reality. Knowing that your voice matters, your opinions count and that your words have the ability to benefit others can inspire you to become a role model for others to feel the same. If people remained silent nothing would change.
Staying true to you is about learning to trust your inner voice and not being afraid to live a life that reflects your individuality. Being authentic is about taking the 'real you' out of the closet and being courageous enough to free fall into a world that is ready to connect with all the wonderful talents your true self is ready to offer.
"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary" - Steve Jobs