How to Unleash Your Best Self
When The Aura of Your Best Self Starts Shining Through
Before I reinvented my first career and while I was still working to become my best self, a dear friend taught me a powerful lesson about reinvention. I included this powerful lesson in my new book, The Journey to Reinvention: How to Build a Life Aligned with Your Values, Passion, & Purpose.
After a very late night of dancing at a club in Vegas, we sat down for breakfast at about 6am. Over breakfast I told her about an experiment I launched to explore an interest in tutoring math. I posted an ad on craigslist and secured a client. I told her all about working with my client. I shared the interesting things I was learning about math and the art/science of teaching.
I went on and on about this experiment and then she said to me, “You know, when you talk about teaching math, you really light up. It’s like there’s an aura around you. I can’t help but feel energized and drawn to you. You should find a way to radiate that aura all the time.”
This was the first time in my professional career that I started to become aware of what my best self could look like.
The Magnetism of Passion: How Pursuing Your Passion Helps You Become Your Best Self
You radiate an incredible amount of energy when you do and/or talk about what you love. Think about the last time you talked about something you really enjoy, and I can guarantee you couldn’t stop smiling while telling that story. I become excited when I talk about wine, coffee, soccer, teaching math, coaching, and other topics I enjoy and love. I have no doubt that you have your own topics that get you equally as excited!
When you tap into and radiate that level of energy you attract people, resources, and opportunities to you. This is also known as the best version of yourself or your best self. Your best self is the one that communicates with passion and energy and can’t help but smile from ear-to-ear. That version of you becomes a magnet for opportunities you didn’t even think were previously possible.
In 2014, I got involved with an organization called Techstars Startup Weekend and became a certified global facilitator for their 3-day entrepreneurship bootcamp events. As a facilitator, I spent the entire event speaking, teaching, and coaching – all of which I love doing. As of 2023, I have facilitated 85 of these events around the world. During this time, I not only got better at each of those skills, but I absolutely radiated with joy at getting to practice them while making an impact on people working to bring an idea or passion project to life. Needless to say, my best self was always unleashed at these events!
In almost a decade of facilitating these events, I have attracted countless opportunities, people, and resources. One that I will never forget was when I attracted my dream job. In that Startup Weekend event, several of the participants were from IBM and one of the judges was a senior executive at IBM. After a weekend of doing what I loved and unleashing my best self in front of so many people from IBM, I got a call from that senior executive after the event to attend a meeting with him. In that conversation, he said that he and other IBMers took notice of my talent and they wanted to recruit me to the company.
Long story short, a few months later, an offer was put in front of me that I could not refuse. I’ll never forget how I felt when I got the call with the offer. I was at a speaking engagement in Palm Springs at the Hard Rock and stepped out of the ballroom to take the call in the hallway. Since there was another speaker presenting, I was the only one in the hallway when I spoke with the executive. He gave me the news and said that the official offer was going to arrive in my email shortly. I thanked him, hung up, and felt exactly like Will Smith felt in the movie Pursuit of Happiness after he got the offer for his dream job and walked out onto the street to take it all in.
This is what unlocking your best self can look like when it happens. So how do we make it happen? How do we begin to practice those things that unleash our best self? How do we tap into that inner magnet that attracts the resources, people, and opportunities we want and need to start building a life aligned with our values, passion, and purpose.
Aligning Your Life with Your Best Self: The Role of Passion Projects and Side Hustles
Passion projects and side-hustles are an effective way to create new and life-changing opportunities in your life. Because you pick what you do, you can align either one with your values, passion, and purpose. When you create that alignment, you have a vehicle for unleashing your best self every time you step into it. Startup Weekend was aligned with my values, passion, and purpose. It was the perfect vehicle for tapping into my best self since 2014 and in 2023, I still drive that vehicle several times a year!
There are other benefits that I enjoyed by engaging with a passion project like Startup Weekend.
Some of those benefits of passion projects and side hustles include:
- Discovering who you are (i.e. values, passion, and purpose)
- Creating future reinvention possibilities and pathways
- Connecting to a related community or building your OWN community
- Augmenting your income
- Activating your network and making the most of mentors
- Accessing purpose and meaning on a regular basis
- Developing new skills and experience
- Collecting results and testimonials
- Getting to know yourself better
- Curing imposter syndrome
New projects and interests can be exciting but can also feel intimidating when it’s new to you. You might even feel imposter syndrome while attempting to get involved.
Before I got involved with Startup Weekend, I questioned myself, “what I could bring to the tech startup world as a math teacher. I’m not a developer or a startup founder or an investor. What business do I have getting involved in this? What value could I even bring to this community?”
This is the case for many people who become interested in something that is new and different from what they currently do. That intimidation factor can keep you from ever doing anything about your new interest. The fear of stepping outside your comfort zone and exploring new interests can hinder your journey to becoming your best self.
The key is to find an approachable and doable way into your new interest.
How can you begin to get involved, talk to people, and/or learn more about the field right away without having to be an expert or have any experience?
Projects can give you an approachable way into a new interest without overcommiting you. After your short-term project is complete, you may find that you don’t like it as much as you thought you would. Testing out a small project can help you explore your new interest without over committing.
Because a project is meant to be smaller than a full commitment, it also means that it can help you build confidence through small wins. The confidence you build over time from accumulating small wins will help you overcome imposter syndrome. If you are doing the work and it’s visible to others, then you cannot be an imposter, by definition!
How to Stop Getting in The Way Of Your Own Success And Start Living Up To Your Highest Potential
Often, when we think about launching a passion project or side hustle, we start by thinking to ourselves, “what can I do?” or “what project can I bring to life?” or “what are my current skills that I could leverage?” or “what can I build?”
The problem with those questions is that they are all centered around YOU. When you start with yourself at the center of any project, then you run the risk of:
- Feeling imposter syndrome
- Discouraging yourself from following through if you don’t have the skills
- Putting too much pressure on yourself to deliver outstanding performance
- Attaching the success or failure of the project to your self-worth and value
- Exposing yourself and your ego to possible embarrassment or failure
Working with thousands of people around the world on bringing their ideas from concept to creation, I have learned that this is the leading reason why people either delay or never bring their ideas to life.
It is completely understandable that if YOU are at the center of the project then the pressure can hold you back from reaching your best self. When your personal worth or value is tied to the success or failure of the project it is easy to resist moving forward. You may spend a lot of time thinking about and researching the project, but you’ll never actually launch it to the world.
I’ve been there MANY times! I have hesitated to do things that were too near and dear to me, often because I was too personally invested in the success or failure of the idea. That pressure and fear held me back from taking massive action. In addition, since I was at the center of the project, the fact that I was new to that interest made me feel like an imposter. Why would anyone take me seriously or care what I have to say about something in this new field of interest?
How do we detach ourselves from the success or failure of the project? How do we begin to get out of our own head and out of the way of our own success?
To Unleash Your Best Self Is To Act: Four Steps to Launch Your First Project
Step 1: Ask WHO not WHAT – instead of trying to come up with a great idea or figure out what you could do, shift your focus to whom can you serve. You already know the target interest or community you’d like to get more involved with. Now ask yourself whom in that community can you serve.
For example, if you want to get into the food and culinary world, you might want to serve people interested in learning how to cook, aspiring restaurateurs, up-and-coming chefs, foodie bloggers and influencers, etc.
To make this even simpler, think about the people in the food space you want to meet with and learn from the most. Maybe you are interested in the foodie blogger/influencer world. If that’s the case, shift your focus to that subgroup.
When you shift your focus to the people you can serve, you begin growing towards your best self and you get out of your head long enough to get excited about serving others rather than how you will perform and what that means to you. Start with Who and then move to the next step.
Step 2: What is their problem? Now that you have a target audience for your project, research their top three trends and the top three problems they are facing currently. You can Google all of this or you can ask Open AI’s ChatGPT, “what are the top three topics that food bloggers and influencers are writing and posting content about in 2023?”
I asked ChatGPT and got the following three trends:
- Sustainable and ethical food practices
- Health and wellness
- Culinary travel and global flavors
You can also build a list of problems in the food and culinary industry. I asked ChatGPT for some ideas and here’s what I got back:
- Labor shortage
- Food safety concerns
- Sustainability and environmental impact.
From either list, you can pick the one that interests you the most. This will be the focal point of your project. You will aim to explore, address, or serve that topic in some way, shape, or form.
Step 3: Brainstorm Ideas! With a target audience in mind and a focal point for the project, you can now start to brainstorm ideas for ways you can explore, address, or serve the problem.
To brainstorm effectively, first set some rules in place in order to make sure you don’t allow yourself to get in the way of great ideas.
- Don’t judge any idea, just capture them
- Use post-its and write only one idea per post-it
- Stay focused on your audience and chosen topic (i.e. focal point)
- Invite others into the process, the more people the better
When you are done capturing at least 20 ideas, put those post-its up on a wall and start grouping them into categories based on similarity or theme. This will help you organize the storm of ideas that just rained upon you!
Pick a grouping that piques your interest the most and decide on one of the ideas or consider merging a few ideas.
It’s important that you don’t overthink this part of the process because your mission is to get moving on a project sooner rather than later. Remember, bringing out your best self starts with taking action.
Step 4: Measure It – Decide how you will measure and define the project. The project cannot be something that goes on forever, it must come to a conclusion within 2-3 months. For example, don’t make your project a podcast, instead, make it a podcast mini-series with max 10 episodes. Instead of committing to a book, which takes longer than three months, commit to a 50 page e-book.
How you measure it and define the scope of the project will ensure you can reach the finish line within a reasonable amount of time (i.e. 2-3 months).
Projects are like seeds of possibilities, the more your plant, the more possibilities you have for future success and the closer you get to your best self. At this point, you don’t know enough to decide if one idea is better than the other, so your best bet is to go with the ones that interest you the most. This way you ensure you will enjoy the process and give it your best effort.
In my experience, there are some project templates that fit a lot of different fields of interest and might be a good fit for you. One of the keys to making this project most useful to your exploration is to make sure it accomplishes three things:
- Explores, addresses, or serves the target audience/problem
- Validates your assumptions and hypotheses about the interest/audience/problem
- Validates YOU to the new community you want to be a part of
The following are three project templates that achieve both of those objectives, by design.
3 Project Ideas You Can Launch Right Away And Start Unleashing Your Full Potential
Mini-Blog Article Series – If you are interested in learning more about the culinary arts, you might not want to start by applying for chef roles or enrolling in culinary school. Nevertheless, you want to explore that curiosity and one of the best ways to do so is to start writing about it.
With a mini-blog article series, you can commit to writing 10 articles about any aspect of the culinary world that interests you. Each article will require you to do research, interview people, and maybe even engage in a few experiences or events. When you show up to an event and people ask you what you do or what brought you to the event, you can say, “I’m working on an article on [some culinary topic] and I’m here to do research.”
Immediately, this gives you credibility and purpose for attending the event and something to discuss with the new people you meet. This mini-blog series serves as something tangible to start conversations and follow-up with people about. Best part, it can be done in 3 months or less!
Mini-Podcast Series – similar to the mini-blog article series, you can launch a 10 episode podcast series. If writing isn’t as interesting to you, but you love having awesome conversations with new people, then simply record them!
In March 2023, I launched my own podcast (The School of Reinvention Podcast) and I can confirm that getting started is a lot easier than most might think. This is how I do it:
- Book Intro Conversations with potential podcast guests and Podcast Interviews using Calendly
- Host and record podcast interviews on Riverside.fm (it’s like zoom but tailored to podcast interviews and special events)
- Hire an audio editor to edit and clean up the recordings ahead of publishing (find one on Fiverr)
- Finally, publish via RedCircle so it shows up on all podcast platforms
The key to either of these projects is that the commitment is capped at a certain number of episodes or articles. This ensures you don’t over-commit while giving you the best chance of completing the project. Regardless of whether you pursue the interest or not, you become more aware of what catalyzes your best self and you can show something for your creativity and work ethic. These series become a part of your portfolio of completed projects.
Mini-Event or Event Series – a great way to activate your existing network and welcome new and relevant people to your network is to host an event. The best part about being the host is that you don’t have to be the expert, instead your job is to bring the experts together and invite others to network, listen, and learn.
Hosting live events (virtual or in-person) will demonstrate to your new market that you are someone to know and that you are actively contributing to their community. An event is something you could easily organize and deliver in under three months and it doesn’t have to be longer than 2-3 hours. A possible agenda might look like this:
- 30 minutes – guest registration and mingling with light snacks and drinks
- 90 minutes – 3-4 speakers/presentations on trending topics in that community
- 30 minutes – networking and wrap up
All you need is a space for the event which can be free if you ask around your network or find a local venue that stands to gain from the extra foot traffic. For example, I’ve held meetups at bars or coffee shops during their slow periods and they simply carve out some space for my group so long as people buy drinks and food.
If you have some money to invest into the event, you can consider buying some appetizers and/or snacks for the group to kick things off or maybe even a first round of drinks for the first XX people to arrive. It’s a nice incentive for people to arrive early.
Your best self is already inside of you and passion projects are how you can unlock and unleash it to the world.
When was the last time you got a glimpse of your best self? What stood out about that experience? What did you like the most about it?
Has it been a while since you’ve seen your best self? If so, it’s time to launch a passion project! Want to discuss your next project with me? Book time with me for a Project Design Call.