Don’t Just Be Yourself. Improve Yourself.

“Just be yourself” is terrible advice.

The intention of course is well-meaning – to be confident in oneself. I certainly agree that everyone should be confident.

The problem is when people misconstrue “just be yourself” as “you are perfect the way you are and don’t need to improve”.

No you are not perfect, and neither is anyone else. We are all flawed, and thus we should constantly strive to improve ourselves. Personally I find life without improvement and challenge boring and meaningless.

Unhappiness is a clear sign that one needs to improve themselves. If you are a frail, weak, feminine, broke, shy man who sometimes identifies as a woman and are happy with your life – that’s fantastic. If you are an obese, masculine, short-haired woman who wears men’s clothes and has a vape addiction but are happy with your life – all the power to you. If however you are unhappy and not achieving success in dating, work, health, etc., then it’s time to make some improvements. (The easiest way to start would be by hitting the gym and improving one’s diet.)

Instead of starting from the perspective of assuming that one is correct and knows everything, one should start from a position of humility by assuming that they are wrong and know nothing, and strive to correct that. For example when I try to learn about a topic that I have a preconceived notion on, I start by researching the counterargument. The counterargument forces me to defend my position. If I am not able to defend my position, then I change my position.

Intellectual humility is not to be confused with lack of confidence. Not being perfect does not excuse inaction. You are probably not the best basketball player, coder, or entrepreneur, but that does not excuse not playing and just sitting on the bench. A confident person accepts their limitations and takes action regardless, instead of stagnating in paralysis.

The greater your humility, the greater your potential for improvement. It’s the rigid inflexible “I already know everything” people who never elevate to the next level. I’ll put my money on the ambitious but humble person any day.

If something is not working, then try something different – even something you never previously considered, especially if the person recommending it is objectively better than you at that thing you’re trying to improve on.

Don’t just be yourself. You are flawed like everyone else. But that is ok so long as you are striving for improvement. You’ll never reach perfection, but the pursuit of perfection is worth devoting one’s life to.

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