I was chatting with a friend the other day. Our conversation was a mix of a mutual project and we eventually turned towards life in general. We started to chat about the characteristics we inherited from our parents. Some of those characteristics are things we would rather not have, and of course we acknowledged the fact that we got some good too. Why is it so much easier to focus on the critical?
At one point she said, “I am just trying to be the best me I can be.” I thought, “That makes sense.” But…my brain took over. What does that mean? What is it to be the best me? Wasn’t that the slogan for military recruitment in the 1980s? The Air Force I think. Maybe that was why it stood out to me, it was in the media all of the time. We want to be the best that we can be, but what does that mean? I think it is a moving target. No, it isn’t an internal moving target. It is an individual target. Mine looks different than yours, or his, or hers. Not better – just different. I think that the best me depends on the me. I guess it goes back to those traits we inherit and learn to use from all of our ancestors and life teachers along the way.
Let’s break this down by how we think. I teach and use the Emergenetics® profile to help people understand their thinking and behavioral preferences. Let’s break down this Best Me approach in the Emergenetics seven attributes of thinking and behaving. The FOUR thinking attributes are Analytical, Structural, Social, and Conceptual. The THREE behavioral attributes are Expressiveness, Assertiveness, and Flexibility. These behaviors are about how we display our emotions and actions toward others in coordination with the amount of energy we use to communicate those feelings. The flexibility is a range from I-do-it-my-way to we-can-do-that-and-that-or-that-and-that-too. We tend to notice behaviors first in others as their presenting self.
So the best me in four acts…or four characters, archetypes, people
Analytical – This me is the thinker. This is a preference toward life that is rational and has to think about things and process. Analysis paralysis can be the Achilles heel of this Me. This me doesn’t like to be caught off-guard so they will prepare, reprepare, overprepare, then reprepare again…just in case someone asks that third or fourth level question…psssst….that typically doesn’t happen. You’re prepared.
Structural – This me is the doer. This me has a way they like to do things and it follows their structure and some sense of procedure. This me is the practical thinker. The Achilles heel here is a dependence on the predictable and was appears to be the tried and true. The best predictor is past performance, but some might take this to an extreme. They could miss their text message because it wasn’t on their answering machine. Let’s just get this organized and it will all work.
Social – this me has a feeling about how others reactions. The empathy can sometimes move to the sympathetic. This me likes to connect with others about their thoughts about how to be me. It isn’t a self-centered thing at all. It is a connection with others to discuss and pull ideas together. It is kind of like having a parking ticket and asking the store clerk, “can you validate this?” This me likes the connections wth people in some form…it can be verbal, or listening, or contact of some degree.
Conceptual – This me likes to collect ideas, notions, concepts, approaches, etc, etc, etc, about how to be me. The unusual, or the not-so-common approach is how this me would like to be seen. Actually this me might not realize they give off the “out there” vibe, because they were thinking about some other idea. And trust me that idea can be connected back to ground zero idea. This me is forward thinking and visionary…that isn’t always understood or appreciated by others around them [see structural :)… no just kidding].
Simple caveat here – we are much more nuanced than just four approaches to life. Some of these will combine, interact, or influence our other parts. This is just a quick overview. Did I need to say that? I am sure you got it….One of my occupational challenges is that I think in terms of this profile. It just happens, I can’t help it. It is who I am…it’s what I do. But my friend’s comments, “I just want to be the best me I can be” started all of these thoughts moving around in my head.
Do Your Best
That right there is the Cub Scout Motto. I learned to think like that when I was eight-years-old. It is a nice mantra to use when we are preparing for something, Do Your Best. Speaking of mottos (and preparation), throw in the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared. What more can anyone ask of you? If you can look at something as honestly say, “I did my best” isn’t that a good feeling.
Your best this time may be a little less than your best next time. We call that learning and maturation…no matter what age you are. Life is experiential (see my blog about that). Learning from our own past is the perfect method for living. Why is that? Well – because we are both the learner and the teacher. Isn’t life really like a quiz that you get to grade your own work? You can hand it to the person next to you in class, but chances are pretty good you graded immediately upon execution. I would be willing to bet that MOST of the time we tend toward an average to failing grade. Why is that? Why are we so ctitical? Oh my…that is a whole different blog entry (mental note write that).
But we have the ability to rely on that truth inside…that truth to be the best me. No matter what preference or perspective you naturally go use. Trust that you have the ability to be the best me. In a leadership perspective we go back to understanding HOW to work with others. It is great to understand how we can be the best me, but leadership is more inclusive. Building relationships and connecting with others calls us to see and recognize the best me in all of them. It is validating when someone sees how I be me. Another friend told me he read a book on mindfulness. He said, “I thought about you while reading it.” Those few words were validating.
Be Me Up Scotty
How are you trying to be your best me? It is a higher state of you. It is a state that should be pondered. Which of the four thinking styles is your natural preference? Do you celebrate it? Or frustrate it?