I love crab until I don’t. Imitation crab is terrible! If you’ve had it, you know what I mean. Imitation anything is not nearly as wonderful as the original.

It’s a fact that a person’s individual purpose and path is as unique as their DNA. So when we overlay someone else’s way onto our own, things can veer off course. We become out of alignment and incongruent with who we really are. This imitation living and leading can also be an entrance ramp to Performance Addiction.

When we imitate another—personally or professionally—it ends up causing anxiety and stress because the results do not translate. Authentic presentation of self shines brightly, and the opposite dims noticeably.

I often see this in my work with leaders (especially those who are up-and-coming, working hard to establish their brand). They take on the characteristics of their leader/mentor which includes the good, the bad and the ugly. They feel lost and confused … unsure of why what works brilliantly for that other person is a catastrophe for them. They start spinning—becoming full of self-doubt—wondering if they should even be in this position in the first place.

After helping clients with some breathing lessons, I support others in getting out of the spin cycle by going back and starting at the beginning … with PURPOSE. I then ask these questions:

  • What is your purpose? What really matters to you?
  • How does this purpose show up in your life?
  • What are your values as they relate to your purpose?
  • What are your strengths and how can you better leverage them?
  • How can you show up in a more authentic way?
  • What do YOU want to be known for?

I have a friend who is a first-grade teacher. On Fridays she wears roller skates to school with the goal of fostering a fun and engaging classroom. She looks forward to it and so do her students. It works brilliantly for her. Another teacher, noticing the great results, also gave Friday roller skates a go. It was a disaster. She didn’t feel comfortable and her inauthenticity was so apparent that the experiment back-fired, resulting in an unhappy teacher which then trickled down to unhappy students.

It’s smart to take elements of what works well for others, but you must make them your own. It must align with the core of who you are. Without that congruence and what matters from a purpose and values perspective, everything will be a short-term proposition (if it even works at all). Not being true to yourself results in striving harder, losing confidence, and getting fewer results. In other words, we are living from the outside-in, the hallmark of Performance Addiction™.

Figure out what truly matters to you and show up in an authentic way instead of wearing someone else’s clothes. You’ll feel liberated and more at ease. You’ll also notice your relationships improving due to increased trustworthiness (as people can smell inauthenticity from a mile away). Your style of living and leading is uniquely yours. Don’t settle for imitation crab and don’t settle for an inauthentic life. Live fully and fearlessly from the best of you—from the inside-out. There is nothing more spectacular.