Hard as I try, I can’t be Beyoncé… but I can learn what makes her great.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut. The thrill of space exploration and the wonder of what was out there fascinated me. Too bad about all the science stuff…
The recent launch of the SpaceX expedition to the International Space Station had me reminiscing about my childhood dreams. Besides being an astronaut, I also wanted to be a famous dancer or equestrian. Now, I want to be Beyoncé because, well… Beyoncé.
As much as I admire people for what they’ve accomplished, trying to be just like them won’t work for me. The thing is, I will never, ever be Beyonce. Because there is only one Beyonce, and only ever will be one. Truthfully, that’s one of the key attractions of Beyonce—her uniqueness in the cluttered world of entertainment. She stands out for her music, but also for her business acumen and appreciation for the tastes of her audience.
I may not be able to be someone else, but I can try to understand what makes them so noteworthy to me and learn to develop those traits I admire. When I think about what (or who) I’d like to be, there are some commonalities between them:
In all cases, these athletes, scientists, and artists are people who’ve worked hard and applied their skills. They’ve understood their strengths and found careers which would allow them to apply their talents and work hard to supplement them as necessary.
They work hard every day to develop their core skills. Once they’ve achieved a level of mastery, they don’t let it stop there. They continue to learn, grow, practice, and apply new ideas, skills, and talents.
They build up muscle by focusing on what got them there in the first place. Professional athletes spend hours and hours in practice every day honing the basics. As a child, Wayne Gretzky, one of the most successful hockey players of all time, would spend hours analyzing National Hockey League (NHL) games on television. He would trace the path of the puck on a sheet of paper, never taking his eyes off the screen. Later, as an NHL player, Gretzky proved to have an uncanny ability to know where the puck was going, allowing him to become one of the highest scoring players ever.
These people who have attained the top levels in their fields all demonstrate incredible work ethics. Every day they display a dedication to their crafts and a willingness to put in the work needed to be consistently great.
Reviewing that list, these are key character traits I can emulate:
Understand their strengths and seek fields that allow for application of those strengths.
Continue to learn and grow.
Spend time in practice and analysis to hone skills.
Dedication and work ethic.
I’ll also add the people I admire most are those who appreciate their position and take whatever opportunities they can to give back. I’ve made it my practice to help others wherever I can. In this vein, I mentor, coach, and support those who are new or transitioning in their careers. I’ve based my work on a passion to make the business world better and more engaging for those working in it.
Recently I came across these words from Beyoncé (which only made me love her more):
If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose.
What did I learn from that? I have opened my mind and heart over the years to accept the contributions of people from all backgrounds. I’ve listened to them and learned, and in many cases, changed what I do as a result. I've taken what I've learned and shared that knowledge with those I mentor. Some day I hope they will transfer their own wisdom to mentees who are eager to learn.
No, I can’t be these amazing people, but I can recognize what makes me feel they’re great. Once recognized, I can learn and develop those same traits in myself, and then use what I learn to make the business world a better place. Hmm… if I’m successful, maybe I’ll be a person to admire too!
If you'd like help in creating a mentoring program in your organization, reach out. I'd be pleased to help.
cover image courtesy of Preety Laraib