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You may hear this phrase a lot;

Don’t let others tell you who you are. Be unique.

My assumption is you’ve heard it from your parents or teachers, relatives, or University professors – while at the same time society, and a majority of those same folks want to push you into this conformity mold.

Either way, to be frank, and outright, the statement “Don’t let others define you” holds very true. But you need to learn to not give a damn, and I mean that in a positive sense, create you (in reality, not identity and all that crap floating around in society today).

Rather than listening to everyone else I’ve learned to define who I was for myself- to be true to myself. Don’t get me wrong – I highly, highly value the inputs I get and have gotten during my life’s journey. Be it from my wife, family, parents, close friends, and mentors, managers, and bosses, or other folks I can relate to. I love to listen and I love it when people are blunt with me. If everything was dandy all the time, then that probably means that something in a specific relationship is not clicking correctly because somewhere we are bound to have a difference. I have faults! Yes, it’s true! And if we can have a conversation about where you think I need to be, then great I’m all ears.

Hence, I do listen to those inputs and you should listen to those you trust as well, BUT ultimately it is only their opinion. Some you can/should/will take to heart more so than others, but ultimately those people do not know what you need to execute against (at least most of the time) – what your wants and needs are. You will need guidance in life, no doubt. You will seek advice, that is normal. You may want a sign or a tip or something to be able to grab and hold on to, where you feel you need to be because it’s who you are.

However, let me reiterate this again – and if there is one key thing I want you to take away right here and right now it’s that I want you to define who you are. Don’t allow anyone else to ever define who you should be.

In other words, if you are a doctor, but you really want to be a cook, then go work in a kitchen and get the experience. If you sit in a cubicle all day, but really want to sing then utilize your vocal cords. If your a web developer, but really want to work with kids then go figure out how to do that. Do not, ever (!) operate your life because someone or something else tells you that that is how it needs to be done. And trust me, that is easier said than done. Logically. If your a Doctor earning 6 digits a year have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed, then you won’t start working as an apprentice for next to nothing. The point is, be you, be authentic. Be who you want to be. And yes, sometimes you just need to bite through certain molds while knowing what light is at the end of the tunnel, however, life is too short to squeeze yourself into someone else’s mold.

If you know what you want, then as they say in poker go “all in.” Don’t put yourself into a mold because you feel that others have placed you there and because of that you confine yourself to “someone else” as they make you feel that that is who you really are – even if you may be good at whatever that is. If it’s not your passion you do not belong in that mold.

Ultimately, keep in mind that you are responsible for yourself. You can finger point and complain all you want, but in the end, it’s you. You are the one and only person that can define who you are and what you want to achieve in life. You may be asking yourself, “Hermann, how do I do that?”

It’s fairly straight-forward. Be conscious of yourself. Be self-aware. Play with your strengths and go all out and respect the fact that you have weaknesses. If you are a construction worker who has the ability to manage a fish restaurant in an upscale part of town and that is something you want in your life, then all you need to do is do it. I love one Richard Bransons quotes and one of them goes along the lines of – if someone offers you a job and you have no idea how to do it, then accept it, learn it and do it.

Stick to what makes you happy and the goals that you want to execute on. That’s the bottom line of this whole gist. In the end, it is your happiness, and no one else’s. Happiness drives everything in life! (Not money. That just makes life easier.) Do not limit yourself to what other people think you should be.

Before I close let me give you one great example.

I have a really good friend who in our days as kids was always into planes and flying and all of that with the dream of becoming a pilot. Later on, after we all moved out of school and life went on, despite everything and everyone else and after doing a bit of this and that he got a job as a flight attendant and did that for roughly three years, but his ultimate goal was still to become a pilot. He studied and worked his a** off. Went to pilot school, even abroad, financing it on his own. He successfully completed his training, got his pilot license and the same airline for which he was a flight attendant for accepted him as a pilot. That is the drive you need. That is defining who you are! Today he continues educating himself to fly bigger planes, accumulating hours to move into the Captains seat. He didn’t let anyone defer him from where he wanted to go and who others thought he should be.

That is the bottom line.

Be self-aware to know what you should be doing and do it for you.

Life is beautiful. Make it happen.