Every so often I am asked for career advice, which I take very seriously. In my field, I can give examples of choices I had and made, and the paths of others who made different choices. I have a wealth of stories in my back pocket to give people guidance. But recently I was asked by someone in a completely different profession for career advice. A good friend who I have known since we were little kids. 

I could have gone to the cliche bucked “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” (Marc Anthony) Well I heard this from my parents, many teachers etc. And have previously written about following your dreams quoting people such as Jim Carrey who said, “You could fail at something you hate.” I went as far as to write about the question we get in kindergarten about what you want to be when you grow up, the answer should not be a Doctor, Lawyer, or President. All could have been decent ways to direct my friend. 

When people are asking for career advice there are a lot of key questions to ask. I did ask a few, like what is important to you right now, and what do you think will be important to you in five years? I mostly wanted to hear his concerns about the choice he had in front of him. One common concern among many people who ask for this advice is the fear of failing, the fear that they cannot do succeed at the new opportunity. How do you convince someone that they will succeed? 

To answer my friend was found in a note a scribbled to myself over ten years ago, after learning it from my daughter’s hockey coach who died in a car accident. The note simply states, ‘Hi my name is Larry, and I make a living being myself.’ I responded to my friend that if he takes this new role, what does he think he is going to do differently than he does currently. After some other questions and digging came out was that he was going to be himself. And he is going to succeed not because he is one of the tops of what he does, not because he cares about what he does, that being himself is what gets him clients. He does not need to rethink and change. He needs to embrace what makes him special, and that is to just himself. 

There are very few jobs where every moment is perfect, and every second you are content. Finding what you love to do may not match your ability and I wrote two posts about talent versus skills, but now I throw in something completely different. What about you as a person brings to what are you doing. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube of people shredding on guitar, but how many can write an original composition, how many can make it entertaining, so that you are willing to see them in concert over and over? How many restaurant owners make you feel at home when you are there, and the food tastes that much better? 

This same friend of mine said things to me for the longest time, that I did things my own way and that I did not care if I fit in if I was being myself. When I was younger, I doubted not just what I did for a living, but my life in general. While I do not know how to teach someone to find who they are I did learn to assess when a person is acting as themselves. Often it is work trying to get that real person to surface. I may not be the best coder, I may not be the best software architect, but my teams at building software being myself. Often not knowing I was doing it and not knowing how to describe what I did until I saw that one note. And this was the advice I gave my friend, in either choice you make if you are yourself success will come to you. 

Twenty plus years ago I was working at a different financial institution, and for some reason they did not give us business cards. I was often at conferences, meetings with vendors and other instances where a business card would be useful. This was a time pre-smartphone era where business cards were common. I made my own and for a title I put ‘Web Geek.’ This described more than what I did, but my attitude towards how I did it. I would prefer my business card have as a title ‘Being Myself.’  

Simon Sinek was quoted as saying “Great leaders don’t try to be perfect; they try to be themselves.” It is not simply great leaders, the quote applies to anyone doing anything and with anyone, whether job, with friends, with family or by themselves. To be great, you do not need to be perfect, you need to be yourself. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them. 

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them.