Embrace Your Zebra

I think Zebra’s are breathtakingly beautiful. I love that their stripes look as if they have been painted by hand. And I love that you can line a hundred of them up next to each other and not a single one is identical. I love their uniqueness.

I believe that each of us is like a Zebra (stay with me!). Each of us has a unique identity and a unique purpose. But the problem is that most of us don’t realise this, or if we do then we don’t really believe it; the evidence of this is that so many people are living lives based on the stripes of the Zebras that surround them. They have bought in to the (often commercial) propaganda that constantly tells us that success is a ‘one size fits all’ and that you are only successful when you get approval from those around you; the more ‘Likes’ you get the closer you are to happiness.

There are many problems with this type of thinking, but to keep on track with the original blog theme, the most relevant one is that this mentality pushes us to strive not for what we want – but for what other people have. And so, we lick our fingers and we rub at our stripes, trying to make them look just that bit more like….well whoever we have decided is successful and happy.

Often when I coach people I ask them why they are seeking a particular change – a promotion, going back to work after having children, starting their own business, contemplating a divorce – and more often than not it is because they think it is the right thing to do. And by right, I don’t mean correct. I mean the done thing, the expected thing, the easiest thing.

If we set resolutions and goals based on what seems the right thing because of what everyone else is doing, then we may as well not set goals. We must make them from a place of understanding that we each have our own story for the year ahead and that our path will look different. If we don’t do this then we won’t achieve them – why? Because one of the key factors in achieving goals is motivation. If you are not personally motivated or invested in a goal then you will not achieve it. In theory you may want to, but when time gets tight, and finances are stretching, and energy levels are flagging – the things we are the least passionate about are the things that go.

I want to ask you to think this year about what would you do if you weren’t afraid to stand out? If you weren’t afraid that your Zebra stripes wouldn’t blend in? What would you do if you really knew that there is something out there that only you can do? Without you, it just won’t happen.

Maybe you don’t know what you would do, we don’t often take time to ask ourselves what we really want. Or maybe you do have thought about it but it just seemed impossible, or too big so you don’t even know where to begin. Here are a few questions that can help you get started:

  • What gets you excited? What makes you ‘tick’?
  • What are your talents? What do you love doing? What makes you ‘come alive’?
  • What do you want to use your talents for? Who do you want to use them for?

This week’s homework/goal:

Write down the answers to the questions above. Try to be honest with yourself – it might feel scary, maybe you’ve never allowed yourself to think so openly before – but go with your gut instinct, it’s usually right.

Also, take some time to think about situations or relationships that you are in that make you feel like you need to hide your stripes, be honest about these scenarios, and then think about why you feel you need to blend in, and how you can start to embrace standing out.

If you want to find out more about how to set goals that work for you, or want to get a better understanding of your unique purpose, I’d love to hear from you. contact@helenbredenkampcoach.com

And please share some of your resolutions in the comments; I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned!

photo credit: Zoological Parks and Gardens Board