How Can You Be the Best Version of Yourself?

Have you ever received feedback that said you could do so much better? In school, many of my teachers decided I underperformed. I could do more and better.

I never quite understood how those people could see inside my head. How could they read my mind? (You might like Secrets to Catch Yourself Mind-Reading.)

I had similar problems when managers compared me to my peers. “I expect more of you, Johanna.”


The words include “expectations.” I normally say that people live up or down to your expectations of them. However, if people diminish your accomplishments because they compare you to other people, you’re actually living down to their expectations. You can’t win.

These people with high expectations who punish you for not achieving their expectations? They diminish your accomplishments.

Does that seem a little counter-intuitive? Here’s why I say I was living down to other people’s expectations of me:

  • These people already decided what I could and could not do, based on data I didn’t have.
  • They used those decisions to expect different work than I thought I could do. Or, that I wanted to do.
  • They then thought less of my accomplishments or work.

I couldn’t possibly achieve what they thought I could—I could only live down to their expectations of me.

They thought I had fixed skills or talents—and I wasn’t applying them. In their opinions, I was coasting by, not adding extra effort. (Even when I was putting in the time and effort.)

Somehow, they confused my actions with what I wanted from my life.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but I was sure it wasn’t what those people wanted.

What Do You Want?

I want to live up to my expectations of myself. I do use the growth mindset—especially the hard work part.

Except, I choose what I where I want to excel. I bet you do, too.

That’s why I found my teachers’ expectations darn close to useless. Same with too many of the performance “evaluations” I received as an employee. I loved the real feedback. The business about “meeting” or “exceeding” expectations? Not useful at all.

At work, how arbitrary are expectations we’re supposed to meet or exceed? What are those expectations based on? Do you have a way to influence those expectations?

In my experience, the expectations are way too arbitrary and we don’t have enough influence over them.

That’s why we choose what we want.

When I became a consultant, I realized I had to speak and write to get good clients. I’ve been practicing my speaking and writing ever since. I’ve used feedback to learn what resonates with my various audiences. I think I’ve improved over the years. And every so often, I realize how far I have to go!

If I want to be the best version of myself, I need to:

  • Choose where I want to spend my efforts.
  • Do something and get feedback.
  • Use that feedback to improve my next outcomes.

That first decision—where to spend my efforts? I find that the most challenging decision of all. Once I decide, I can continue.

That’s why the question this week is: How can you be the best version of yourself?


  1. If you received many newsletters from me, that’s because I’m reorganizing the site and did not turn off post notifications. I’m sorry about that. I’m not planning to do a mass migration every again!
  2. If you’re thinking of how you can be your best consulting self, see the March 2021 Consulting Workshop.

One thought on “How Can You Be the Best Version of Yourself?

  1. Pingback: Five Blogs – 23 February 2021 – 5blogs

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