Be Yourself


Chapter 13 From The Power of Authentic Leadership

Be Yourself

As I was interviewing various experts for this book, I thought about different people I could contact. One person who came to mind is billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, author and successful star of the hit TV show Shark Tank. In watching him, I found him to be very real, and he was someone I wanted to connect with further.

I decided to send him an email. In the email, I told him I wanted to feature him in my next book, and then I asked him, “What is the secret to being authentic in a world that is trying to get us to be like everyone else?”

He responded with two powerful words: Be yourself.

Mark doesn’t wear a mask – he’s fully himself with the people he interacts with, and this is a big reason why his success is genuine. There are a few powerful aspects to consider behind this response from Mark Cuban.

First, it shows that most of our obstacles are internal, not external. I assumed Mark was too busy to respond to me, but I decided to take the risk and email him anyways. What if I never emailed him, out of doubt or fear of rejection? Then I never would have initiated the possibility of receiving a response. The universe rewards action, and the profit in life is for the person who puts themselves out there. The reality is that Mark did have time to respond, but if I shortchanged myself through self-sabotage, then I never would have opened myself up to that possibility.

Second, it’s not about what you know, it’s what you apply in your life that counts. Knowledge isn’t the key to success. Applied knowledge is the key to success. How many people know they should be themselves, but don’t do it in reality? What I love about Mark’s succinct and useful answer is that it’s a great daily reminder and affirmation. Remember how we were talking earlier about carrying an affirmation on a notecard with you in your wallet or purse throughout the day? This is a perfect example. Print this “be yourself” mantra out. Even frame it if you have to. Make sure to actually apply it in your life, and you will become an authentic leader like Mark Cuban. Being yourself is the key to authentic leadership and prosperity:

  • Be yourself in a job interview.
  • Be yourself on a date.
  • Be yourself when meeting someone new.
  • Be yourself with your friends.
  • Be yourself with your family.
  • Be yourself in all your work and non-work relationships.
  • Be yourself while you’re kicking back and having fun.
  • Be yourself during serious and difficult times.
  • Be yourself until it becomes a habit and your default way of being.
  • Be yourself when [fill in the blank].

I find this mantra from Mark Cuban to “be yourself” is the perfect reminder before an event of importance (or any event, for that matter). I use it as a reminder before I speak, as well as other events like important meetings, live YouTube discussions, radio show interviews, and things of that sort. Whenever I’m feeling any sort of doubt coming on, I remind myself to “be myself,” and it immediately calms my nerves. When you are fully yourself, you never need to worry if someone likes you or not because it doesn’t matter – the right people will come into your life, and you will reach the people you are meant to reach.

Stand for Something and Become Iconic

Given Mark Cuban’s extraordinarily high level of authentic success, many consider him to be an icon. That’s what makes this the perfect time to pull in the example of another quintessential authentic leader, Senator Chris Murphy.

I first met Senator Chris Murphy at the 2016 Jordan Porco Foundation annual gala and conference, and we had a chance to talk face-to-face. He immediately struck me as genuine, and when I approached him, he took the time to chat with me for a while. Senator Murphy is iconic because he stands for what he believes in. In 2016, Senator Murphy spoke in an incredible 15-hour filibuster intended to force the Senate to take up the issue of guns. Gun violence prevention is an extremely sensitive topic, but Senator Murphy is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. This caused him to become iconic.

For the record, the purpose of mentioning this has nothing to do with getting you to take a particular stance on gun violence prevention. (Note that I did not comment on Senator Murphy’s exact stance, I simply mentioned the issue that was at hand; for more information, Google “Senator Chris Murphy filibuster” and read the Rolling Stone article). The purpose of mentioning this is to take a step back and look at the primary element in Senator Murphy’s success: authenticity and being fully himself. Senator Murphy cares, and his actions show it.

You need to strike a balance between being kind and respectful, while also asserting yourself and standing up for yourself. I mentioned earlier in this book the importance of respecting others. I also mentioned earlier in this book the importance of taking off your mask and being real with others. These two things do not contradict each other. Both can happen at the same time. Senator Murphy is the perfect example: He was fully respectful of others, but also stood up for what he believed in by making a stand. His authenticity shone through, and he’s making a big difference in our world.

What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What are you here to share with the world? Even when you are fully yourself, some people won’t like you for reasons beyond your control. Don’t worry about it; recall Winston Churchill’s famous quote: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life.”

“Thank you for your service to the world as a speaker,” Senator Murphy said to me.

“My pleasure,” I said. “And thank you for everything you do. You’re a true leader.”

Senator Murphy is humble and down-to-earth – he took the time to thank me, and he didn’t have to do that. He’s a great leader to learn from.

The Magic Ingredient

I listen to a lot of material from Brian Tracy, one of the greatest authors and speakers in human history. He said something that is one of the most powerful statements I’ve ever heard: “You don’t need to be anyone other than yourself in order to be successful. All you need to do is to be more of yourself, more of what you already are.”

I’ve connected with Brian and his team many times, including letting him know about this book you’re now reading, and Brian endorsed my previous book, Reach Your Mountaintop.

Your success, your authenticity, and your genuine nature is already at the core and truth of your being. You simply need to tap into it and access it! You are already a leader. You are already prosperous. That reality is already there. If you aren’t already experiencing these things in reality, it’s nothing to beat yourself up over – it simply means you haven’t tapped into that part of yourself yet.

We’ve all been off-course at times. We’ve all made mistakes. But when you let this epic realization fully sink into your psyche and soul – that you already are what you seek – you’ll stop striving to be someone you’re not, instead embracing the truth of who you are.

There is philosophical depth behind Brian’s statement, but the goal is to think of it as a practical idea you can apply in your life. Here are some quick ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • You’re already a great writer. Now go write that blog post or start that book you’ve been meaning to write.
  • You’re already a great storyteller. Now go record that video you’ve been meaning to record on your smartphone and publish it to YouTube.
  • After following the advice of the other experts in this book, you now know what your true values are. Now go live and adhere to them.

The difference between where you are and where you want to be isn’t worthiness. You’re already worthy. The difference is action. Once you get going, taking action is a lot easier than you may have initially thought. That’s the practicality in what Brian said. You’re already there – you just need to express what’s inside you. Of course, you can always get better and improve, but the point is that your wisdom and truth is already at the core of your own soul.

My friend John Lee Dumas, a massively successful podcaster and entrepreneur, mirrors the wisdom of Brian Tracy and the core message of this book.

“When you’re just starting out,” John said, “it’s okay to model yourself after other people. But when you get going, and really find your voice, the key is to be yourself. When I started to throw my true self into my efforts, I really started to succeed. Embracing who you are is the key.”

Tapping into the power of authentic leadership and activating your prosperity starts and ends with being yourself, fully embracing all aspects of your true nature. You are lovable and amazing; you are destined for ultimate success.

Jeff Davis is an award-winning author. He most recently published The Power of Authentic Leadership: Activating the 13 Keys to Achieving Prosperity Through Authenticity.

Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis is a professional speaker and the author of several books. He has done keynote speeches internationally and is a sought-after expert on self-leadership, anti-bullying, and overcoming adversity. Jeff frequently speaks to high schools, colleges, nonprofits, organizations, associations, conferences, and businesses. He’s been to five different continents and has a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. He also did a well-received TEDx talk in New York City.