What is 'normal'? 

‘Don’t wish to be normal. Wish to be yourself. To the hilt. Find out what you’re best at, and develop it, and hopscotch over your weaknesses. Wish to be great at whatever you are.’ Lois McMaster Bujold 
I saw this quote the other day and it got me thinking…What is normal? Do we all think we are normal and that it’s everyone else that’s weird? One to ponder. If you look up the dictionary definition of normal it says things like ‘conforming to a standard or usual, typical, expected’. So based on that definition I suppose anything can be normal if it’s what you usually do. Would you agree with my reasoning there? 
From a personal point of view what is my normal is not going to be the same as yours because of my restricted mobility issues for example. When it comes to simple things like going up and down steps or stairs (unless they are very shallow) I will go up or down one at a time mostly. That is usual, typical or expected for me. If there’s a lift or escalator, I’d probably choose that over the stairs. Unless you have to walk miles to it and it’s easier to take the steps slowly and one at a time (Nottingham train station I’m talking to you). 

Conform to feel comfortable 

Then let’s look at the other definition of conforming to a standard. This totally depends on the situation or environment. Think about when you were a kid and going to someone else’s house for tea. What was normal at your house at teatime, quite often, seemed completely different to your friend’s normal. 
Us human’s like to conform and feel comfortable on the whole so we will watch and mimic what’s going on around us even when it doesn’t feel ‘normal’ or even comfortable to us. This is when we don’t feel in alignment and feel like we can’t fully be ourselves. It can lead to making us feel less than confident. Obviously with my work around personal style, brand and the FAB Network I’m all about empowering women to feel comfortable in their own skins and ramping up confidence. And, like Ms Bujold says, being great at whatever you are. 

Self awareness & understanding your values 

So where does all that start? To be the best version of you starts with self-awareness and understanding your values. Your values are what drive you and help you make decisions that feel right in your gut. They motivate you and are intrinsically connected to your beliefs and attitudes throughout life. They might change in priority over time as your life experience kicks in and influences your path, but they are always going to be the things that make you tick. 
When you are aware of what they are it helps you make sense of your reactions to things that might have happened in the past that didn’t feel right – including relationships. The most successful relationships in my experience  (including friendships and clients) are those where your values are truly aligned. I have walked out of jobs and ‘broken up’ with friends because my values didn’t feel aligned, and I wasn’t being true to myself. My number one value is integrity, doing the right thing (even when no one’s looking lol). If that is being challenged, I feel extremely uncomfortable. Some things are just non-negotiable because of deep rooted values. 
Your values will possibly be influenced by your upbringing and your culture. It’s basically how you measure what is good and bad in the world.  Understanding what your values are can help with communicating and creating boundaries. Taking the time to reflect on what’s important to you and why is an exercise worth doing. When your personal life and work life are balanced with your values there’s such a sense of inner peace and improvement to your emotional wellbeing. It feels really good, you feel safe and stable and can make decisions with ease. 

Identify your values 

To identify your values you might find journalling around these questions helps: 
1.       Who are your role models? What qualities do you admire in them? 
2.       What stories inspire you and why? 
3.       What makes you cross and frustrated. Why? 
4.       What have been the most positive meaningful moments in your life? Think about what you were doing, who were you with, where were you? 
5.       What have been the least satisfactory events in your life? What were the circumstances? Tap into the feelings. 
When you reflect on these questions, the answers both good and bad, will help you figure out what was going on for you at the core. Themes will appear. 
Here are a few ‘value’ words to get you thinking: 
Altruism - concern for the welfare and/or happiness of others 
Dependability – either yourself or others being able to trust or rely on 
Integrity – holding yourself accountable 
Generosity – going above and beyond what is expected 
Courage – mental or moral strength 
Gratitude – appreciating even the smallest simplest things in life 
Wellbeing – feeling positive with the world 
Sustainability – caring about the environment and future generations 
Family – putting your children/relatives as a priority 
Self-respect – appreciating your worth 
When you have identified your values, these can unlock your potential to being the best version of yourself. It is important for you to know your values and how you want to be perceived so that is communicated effectively within your business. 
Values and red flags 
If someone said that sustainability was important to them but then had a wardrobe full of fast fashion with no understanding of how the garments were sourced and made it would be a value mismatch. There’d be a red flag and they’d seem hypocritical. 
If someone said they had an altruistic business that gives back to the community, but then made a point of taking photos of the receipts of the food they’d bought for the food bank, to post on social media. That would be a red flag and they would seem inauthentic. 
If someone said they valued integrity but then would renegue on a deal for greater financial gain this would be a red flag and they would seem less trustworthy. 
So linking this back to the work I do around personal style and brand it’s an integral part of the process. The work I do with clients goes beyond how things look superficially to help them be the best version of themselves. When you are your brand then you are communicating your values through how you show up. You’re walking advert for your business. How you look, how your visuals look, what you write, the tone of voice/language you use in your social media content etc all help a potential client get a sense of who you are and whether or not they like the ‘cut of your jib’. People buy people they like or want to be like. 
Being yourself 'to the hilt' 
So to summarise, to be the best version of yourself you need to understand your values and live your truth. I help women in business live their truth by empowering them to show up loud and proud as their authentic selves. Your personal style and brand reflecting who you are at your core means that you are totally comfortable in your own skin. So you can be yourself, ‘to the hilt’ as Lois McMaster Bujold suggests. If you fancy hanging out with a group of women in business who value authenticity why not come along to one of the FAB network meetings? Your first visit is free – ask me about getting a golden ticket. 
Tagged as: Comfydence, How to...
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