Home » Caroline McHugh on The Art of Being Yourself (Full Transcript)

Caroline McHugh on The Art of Being Yourself (Full Transcript)

But when you look in a True Mirror you don’t look at yourself, you look for yourself. You look for revelation, not for reassurance. And this was deeply interesting to me because what I do for a living is I help people be themselves. Not in any narcissistic or solipsistic way, but because I believe that social reformation begins — always starts with the individual.

And when you look at remarkable individuals, and when I say remarkable, or successful individuals, I don’t mean monetarily successful. I mean people that have been successful at achieving whatever they set out to do. You’ll find that the thing they have in common is they have nothing in common. These are people who work in many of the fields that I work in. I work with people in corporations, I work with captains of industry, I work with selected politicians. I’ve worked with geophysicists. I’ve worked with chamber orchestras, and ballet dancers, and pop stars, and opera singers.

And I’ve identified the thread that links them. These are individuals who have managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and then put that at the service of their goals. I think that we all come complete. We come complete with one true note we were destined to sing, and these are people that have managed to figure that out. And it doesn’t dictate your choice of job; what it dictates is how you do it.

And when we see these people we invariably call them larger than life. You know, you’ll see somebody like Roberto Benigni and you’ll say, “Oh my goodness”. Eve Ensler, she’s larger than life, which always makes me smile because how could you be larger than life? Life is large. But most of us don’t take up nearly the space the universe intended for us. We take up this wee space around our toes, which is why when you see somebody in the full flow of their humanity, it’s remarkable. They’re at least a foot bigger in every direction than normal human beings, and they shine. They gleam, they glow. It’s like they’ve swallowed the moon.

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And all the work I’ve done has led me to believe that individuality really is all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, people who are frightened to be themselves will work for those who are unafraid. Now your job is not to be anything like any of the people that I put up behind me. In fact, your job is to be as unlike them as you can possibly be. Your only job while you’re here on the planet is to be as good at being you as they are at being them. That’s the deal.

So I want to start today by asking you an incredibly personal question. Not the one that says, “Why are there so many syllables in the word ‘monosyllabic’?”, no. Not even the one that says, “Did you know that Britney Spears was an anagram for Presbyterian?,” no. Something a wee bit more pivotal. In fact, this is a question that’s been looking for you your whole life. It’s probably the simplest, and the most complicated question you’ll ever ask.

And yet how many times in your life has somebody offered you that well-meaning piece of advice that you should just be yourself? How many times have you said it to somebody else? One of your kids comes to you, or one of your team comes to you, and they tell you they’re nervous, they’re scared. They have to go and do something and their bold goes, and you say to them, “Darling, just be yourself, because when you’re yourself, you’re fabulous”.

Now it always resonates, because it’s all we want to do. If you tell John to be himself, he doesn’t want to be Mary. He’s quite happy being himself, but it’s the use of the word “just” that I find interesting because it would imply two things. Number one, that that was an easy thing to do. Number two, that it was an original piece of advice. You know, John had never thought about it himself.

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When it comes to being yourself, when it comes to being in the world, the minute you showed up, the minute you incarnated, you were given a life sentence. Now, you don’t know how long you got. Maybe you got 70 years and I got 62. We’ve no idea how long we got. Although, where you’re born, when you’re born, to whom you’re born, all these things have a certain influence, or impact on how you become who you become. So if you’re born in Switzerland, chances are you’ve got a long time to figure this shit out. If you’re born in Zimbabwe, or some parts of Glasgow, and I’m not kidding, you’ve got significantly less time.

So what I want you to think about is not what your life expectancy is, but what do you expect from life? And what does life expect from you? Those are more interesting questions. And the two places in life where you are awesome at being yourself, you’re fantastic at being yourself, one of them is when you’re a kid.

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