You can be lots of things. What will you be today?
Some days I like to plan every minute. Other days I choose what I want to be and see where it takes me. It all depends on my mood and what’s already on my to-do list.
There are some things you can be any time. Whether you’re a Fresher or in your final year, fill your day by trying to be these things:
1. Be Seen
Make yourself visible. If nobody can see you, how do they know what you’re up to? Socially, academically, professionally…get on the radar! Speak to people, write a blog, get involved in something you feel strongly about, ask questions, create a portfolio, find somewhere or something new to explore.
2. Be Emotional
Robots don’t (currently) possess genuine feelings. You do. Make your strengths real by explaining how and why you feel the way you do. Emotions are nothing to be afraid of. Expressing yourself isn’t a problem, so long as you consider your response. You can be honest and clear and open without resorting to spontaneity.
3. Be Interested
When you’re interested, it brings out the best in people. My Dad used to go to jazz clubs and he saw some awful bands. So bad that it wouldn’t be a surprise if everyone just left or even started throwing things. But my Dad and his friends did something different. They showed increasing interest. They cheered the bands on. They gave time and attention to these acts and egged them on. And you know what? The majority of the time this allowed the band members to relax a little and improve their playing, or at least give a more hearty performance. Not everything works out at first glance, but a little time and interest can take you places you never imagined possible.
4. Be Helpful
Everyone has to start somewhere. If you see someone else trying to get over a hurdle you had to jump in the past, why not offer some advice or talk strategies with them? Your offer of help may benefit another, and you may just find that they’re able to help you in return. Even if nothing is obvious at the time, you’ve used an opportunity to make contact with someone who you may end up working with (or even competing with) further down the line. A little bit of help can go a long way.
5. Be Sociable
Even when you can’t be directly helpful, it pays to get out there and enjoy those around you, even when you’re ‘on business’. Every meeting is an opportunity. Just as it’s important to be seen, it’s equally important to reach out and be social. Showing your face is one thing, holding out a welcoming hand is another.
6. Be Selective
The more you make yourself visible, the more that will become available to you. But it’s not all amazing. You need to be a filter to everything that comes your way. You are your own personal curator. You hold the key to what gets consumed and what gets thrown out. Being selective is harder than you think, because it can be hard to say no. It’s like when you get rid of clutter. There’s so much you want to keep for sentimental reasons or because it looks good or it might be useful later or…on goes the list of reasons. Being selective is a challenge, but it becomes easier the more you practice. Flex your selective muscle if you want to remain in control.
7. Be Prepared
On one side of prepared, you have pathetic. No preparation whatsoever. No attempt to engage or make the most of what you’ve got. On the other side of prepared, you have perfected. Every last detail scrutinised to within an inch of its life. Every moment of time spent getting something just right, even when time could have been spent better elsewhere. Try not to move too far away from prepared, because danger lies either side. To be prepared is to have an idea of what lies ahead, without obsessing about it or worrying that you’ve missed a minor detail. Without preparation, you have no idea at all and you risk things unnecessarily falling apart.
8. Be Individual
You may hold a view of something that nobody else agrees with. So be it. When you’ve got a hunch, don’t let opinions put you off. Research further. Even if it’s a long shot, give yourself a chance to explore what grabs you before you throw in the towel. Otherwise, you’ll always wonder.
9. Be a Team Player
Together we’re stronger. For all the work you’ll do alone, there are many times when you’ll need a helping hand. For all the specialisms you have, there are others with specialities you need that only they can provide. Don’t just be in the game for you alone; cast your net a bit wider and reap the benefits. You help others and others help you. Geddit?
10. Be Imaginative
Children want to be so many things every day. They want to be a teacher, an astronaut, a racing driver, a princess, a musician, a runner, a dancer, a builder, a shop-keeper, a statue, an animal, a friend, an explorer…
Have you still got a vivid imagination? I hope so!
11. Be Yourself
Of course you’re yourself. Who else would you be?
And that’s the point. The advice to ‘be yourself’ can be frustrating, because it doesn’t mean much in itself. My take is that it’s not worth comparing yourself to others, it’s not worth trying to copy someone else’s success routine, it’s not worth hiding behind an act because you think it’s what people want to see. You need others, but you don’t need to *be* others. To be yourself is to believe in yourself and what you have to offer.
By being the things above, you’ll bring yourself closer to being whatever you want. So I’ll ask the question again: What will you be today?