At Academy of Hair Design, we know it’s important to identify your core values and hold them closely to every day interactions. In this series, we will be looking closely at the day to day applications of Fun, Love, Excellence and Transformation. For the second examination, we’ll be diving into excellence and striving to reach it through the hard work of being honest.
Excellence can be elusive. Of course, it’s a great goal and we are all always trying to get there. But, what’s the point in talking about the finish line if we have no idea how to complete the course? Excellence is an achievement and it is also achievable. That isn’t to say it will be easy, but it will certainly be worth it in the end.
How many of you have heard the simple phrase from Benjamin Franklin,
“Honesty is the best policy.”
While this phrase is practically a household statement, it’s surprising how little it’s truly put into practice. Perhaps this in part is why it’s so rare to see excellence in practice. What excellence looks like truly varies from person to person. Only you can know what it took to get you there, but when others see it they can tell you’ve reached it because there are telltale signs.
If there was a roadmap to this core value it would be inked in honesty.
Honesty: The Early Years
It seems like the older we get, the more honesty climbs up into a higher spot within the traits we value most. Like most wildly important things, it isn’t easy to get to. As you grow up, when someone tells you to be honest it’s most likely that they’re talking about it in relation to other people. It starts early with things like admitting that it was you and not your little sister that broke the vase in the living room and gradually turns into bigger issues like telling the truth when you’re asked if you’ve finished the work you’ve been assigned.
Honesty with other people is incredibly important and valuable in the workplace. It pertains to soft (or interpersonal communications) skills and is expected by your employer and peers. However, as an adult, the new big challenge is to be honest with yourself. Most people of any age can clearly recall the day they passed the threshold of adulthood, the day you became responsible for your own decisions and the direction you choose to go with your time. Being an adult is another hard thing and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Sometimes in an attempt to keep our heads up, to keep being productive, it can be easy to start lying to ourselves. In the short term, lying to yourself can put a bandage on injured self-esteem but ultimately it is unhealthy and ineffective.
Strength & Self-Awareness
“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”
Assessing your skills is an important part of knowing yourself. While there are many unique struggles one may have with this element of self-actualization, there are two primary directions of discomfort. Either struggling with identifying and believing your potential or inaccurately assessing and priding yourself in skills you have not attained. Essentially, we’ll look at both broad ends of the self-confidence in strengths spectrum.
It seems like truly everyone struggles with confidence in their day to day lives. While we often look at the people around us and see primarily positive attributes, we sometimes don’t hold ourselves to the same standards. In a senior class with another student, a young woman remarks that she is afraid she won’t be able to measure up to the accomplishments of other students. After a few moments of listening to her, her peer reminds her they all have the same degree on their resume. This is how easy it is to become blind to the things that you have going for you. A good education, strong work ethic, or even a habit of arriving to your shift on time are all marketable skills. The Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness offers these tips on increasing self-awareness. Self-awareness is an invaluable guide through life.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the reality is that most people aren’t so great at knowing what they’re great at… In health, education, and the workplace people struggle to identify their strengths by engaging in flawed self-assessment. Thus it’s smart to approach gauging your skills also through the eyes of others. Lean into reviews at your job, listen to the comments of those close to you, and don’t just shake off the information being offered to you. Make mental, or even physical notes, to help you remember where you excel.
Weakness & Humility
“Humility isn’t denying your strengths; it’s being honest about your weaknesses.”
Finding your strengths can be pretty uplifting, so set a goal to be just as dedicated to locating your weaknesses. If you really want your skills to stand out, it’s wise to know your limits. This also aids in avoiding being perceived as arrogant. When you do, humility comes to you easily. In addition, knowing what you have to work on keeps you at the top of your game. Noting your struggle to be punctual, a lack of understanding of grammar, or issues with accepting criticism is the first step to overcoming those obstacles and achieving your best work, whatever that may be.
Beyond the broad, self-observation realm it is also important to learn how to own up to your mistakes. Accepting responsibility for your actions is empowering. This psychologist noted the word can be separated into our ability to respond. We have to own the responses that we are generating. The choices that we make and the ways we react to the choices being made around us. So make mistakes, be honest, and learn. Better yourself. Earn the respect of others. Grow.
Reality & Expectations
“When compassion awakens in your heart, you’re able to be more honest with yourself.”
Now, about your honesty in relation to other people. Professionally, it’s important to be honest with your employer about both your strengths and weaknesses. There is a reason that this question is a part of almost every interview you have. If you overstate your skill, you will set unrealistic expectations for yourself at work and ultimately burn out while trying to compensate for your wordiness. And while you may hesitate to admit your struggles, not admitting them will not keep them from being discovered.
In interpersonal relationships, it’s wise to recall those lessons from childhood. A shocking percentage of people are often found to be lying, even intentionally. While the lies aren’t exactly heinous, studies have found that dishonesty gets easier over time. For more information on lies, check out The Trust About the Ways People Lie. The big takeaway is to simply be honest. It genuinely isn’t worth the trouble of fabricating your reality.
No matter where you are, you have the opportunity to be excellent. The application of honesty into your daily practices in the workplace, or even the home, help to better you and strengthen your personal presentation. Take those realistic steps to appreciate yourself where you are. Then, acknowledge what you need to overcome to get where you are aiming. Now you are being pro-active and increasingly more self-aware. This change and effort will truly be FELT by everyone’s life that you touch.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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