I was reading Corduroy with my kids the other day and I was impressed with the underlying message: identify your end goal or you won’t know how to get there.
For those of you who don’t know the story (or who haven’t read it in years, like me), it’s about a little bear in a toy store who is missing a button on his overalls and, as a result, no one wants to buy him. The story is about his adventure to find his button, which he does not find. Disappointed, he finds himself back on the toy store shelf only to be purchased by a little girl who always wanted a bear like him – just has he was. The book ends with her sewing on a new button for him, explaining that even though she likes him just the way he is, the button on his overalls will be more comfortable.
Big lessons here.
First, you are perfect the way you are. Each of us come packaged with a unique assortment of abilities. When we take the time to get to know and value these, we can better use them to make our difference in the world. I love this quote from Buckminster Fuller, “What is it on this planet that needs doing that I know something about that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it?” The world needs us to be our exact selves and bring those selves to the world to make it better.
Second, the people who love and respect you for who you are will support you and value what is unique and amazing about you. They don’t require you to be fixed, improved or be different than you are. They won’t bring you down or make you feel less valuable because of a trait you lack or something you have too much of.
And third, decide what you want and go get it. Corduroy tells himself, “I think I want this” throughout the book, uncertain about what looks or feels right to him. We can get continually distracted by what others tell us we want or need for ourselves. But in the end, like in Corduroy, we have to decide what is right for us and then go get it. Commit to getting to know yourself – who you are, what abilities you have and where in your world can you use them or be your true self – so you start to define what you want. You can’t know which way is forward until you’ve defined the end goal you’re working toward.
People set goals all the time. You have an idea of something you want to have happen and you set out to make it reality. But what if that goal isn’t your goal? What if it’s an idea or goal for someone else? Learn to listen to your inner, wiser voice when it comes to you. You know you best. What really matters to you? What will connect you to your greatest abilities and potential? What will make you happy? It all starts with you – and your ability and commitment to knowing yourself.
And once you understand who you are in all your unique greatness, surround yourself with people who appreciate and respect you for who you are, not those who want or expect you to change for them.
Consider reading Give Me Clarity and Courage