Are You Comfortable In Your Own Skin?

Last week I had lunch with a close friend who made an observation that made me think deeply. It’s not a stretch to say Dennis knows me better than anyone in the world other than Jane. That’s because he helped me through some rough times. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We’d not seen each other for quite some time because of the pandemic so, as you might imagine, it was good to shake hands, share a hug, and enjoy a meal together. As we talked about what transpired professionally and personally, he said, “You seem very comfortable in your own skin.” I don’t know about you but that wasn’t always the case with me. I hope that sharing this helps some readers get more comfortable.

Enjoyment, Not Perfectionism

When I was in middle school I came home with a pretty good report card; 6 As and one C. My dad’s response was, “What happened in English?” While I understand that what’s different usually catches our attention, and that he didn’t mean anything negative by the comment, it set in motion perfectionism in me. What made it tougher was that the comment came from a Marine who had very high standards. 

If you’re a perfectionist you never fully enjoy anything because of the focus on what went wrong. It leads to a gnawing sense that no matter how good whatever you did was, it could have been better. Imagine a golfer who shoots a 64, but only talks about the missed birdie opportunity on one hole. The focus is, “But I could have shot a 63 if I hadn’t missed that darn putt!” when it could have been, “I played the best round of my life!” Which mindset do you think leads to joy?

Content, Not Complacent

I told Dennis, when I’m finished with a presentation or training event at this point in my career it’s rare if I don’t feel like it was the best I’ve ever given. Now I allow myself to enjoy the moment and I don’t downplay any compliments I might get. Instead, I embrace them, thank people, and let them know it means a lot because I work hard on my craft. I’m content but it doesn’t end there.

Usually after a brief period I get back to work. I ask myself what I could do better next time. But the focus of that question isn’t obsessive. Now I get joy as I continue working hard at something I love and that I believe helps others. The difference is comparable to the person who compulsively works out and diets to look a certain way versus the person who eats well and exercises because they enjoy both and the healthy feeling that results. Who do you think enjoys life more?

Trust, Not Control 

I’ve also learned the difference between trust and control. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time then you’ve probably seen this quote before, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” When you put in the work good things happen and quite often those good things aren’t even opportunities you were pursuing. Two instances come to mind.

My target market is insurance. I spent more than 30 years working for different insurance companies. I understand all facets of the industry from the company and agency sides. I spend my time going after that market and yet some of my biggest clients are not insurance related and they found me. When those opportunities present themselves, I’m either ready to help or trust enough to say, “I don’t think I’m the right person for what you need but I know people who can help.” 

The second instance had to do with a Ted Talk I was supposed to give last year. Five days out it was canceled because of Covid. I was disappointed but quickly reoriented my thoughts knowing all my practice and preparation would pay dividends in time. I’m starting to see that as that talk has become the basis for keynotes and breakout sessions for clients.


I’m thankful for Dennis’s observation because I’d not thought deeply about this. Nearly 30 years ago I wrote a personal mission statement, and in one section I wrote, “I want to like who God created me to be.” Am I perfect? Hardly, and I no longer care. There’s no one I’d rather be than me because I know I’m loved and accepted just as I am by the people who matter most in my life. I hope that’s the case for you too. 

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories.  

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 380,000 people around the world.

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