Know Thyself, And To Thine Own Self Be True: 6 Things You Can Do To Live Your Best Life

I opened my blogger.com account around 2005 as a start of an ongoing effort to clarify and display my personal brand, then never wrote a single word. When I resurrected it, I realized I’d left it dormant 11 years. 11 years to my first blog post. Wow! It can be hard to choose, then publicly declare, a personal brand — a personal intention in the world (here’s mine). I eventually saw I was held back by some invisible force I couldn’t see. Once I started looking for it, I began to see shadows of it. Eventually, it was plain as day. Fear and distraction killed me even as I lived. It’s been a slow journey to overcome fear, beat fear, defeat fear. This is how I did it, and how you can too.

To Truly Live: Overcome Fear! Beat Fear! Defeat Fear!

The thing that held me back for so long was plain, undistinguished fear of negative things others might think or feel or say about what I feel or think or say. I now see that this has been a crippling condition for me since childhood. Thankfully, I’ve gotten myself some support in adulthood. Landmark Education showed me some people might actually feel or think or say good things about what I feel or think or say. They helped me see there are people who may actually be dying to hear my message. This revolutionized my experience in life, and it really helped me make progress in making public declarations about my interests. After I joined Toastmasters and gave a few speeches, I saw the direct impact my feelings and thoughts and words had on others. I became hooked on the possibility of reaching out to others and making a difference in their lives.

The more I overcome fear, the more I do the things I want to do. Every time I beat fear, I’m able to share more of the things I enjoy. When I defeat fear, I find others who enjoy the things I enjoy. The more you overcome fear, you’ll do more of the things you enjoy. Every time you beat fear, you’ll find more meaning in the things you do. When you defeat fear, you’ll enjoy more of the things you do and the people with whom you do them.

Define Your Own Plan…

My last day of high school, graduating seniors spent the morning in the gym watching a newfangled multimedia presentation — it included spoken word, music, photos, and even video. Really high-tech and expensive then, especially for a public school event. A key message I recall to this day: “Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”

My University required me to take an English language communication class. Rather than another literature class like all those through high school, I took rhetoric, which is about using language for influence.

…Or Unexpectedly Find You’re Part Of Somebody Else’s

Key among those messages for me, was the idea that if we don’t develop a clear and motivating view of our world and where we want to be, it’s easy to become subject to the whims and influences of others. Worse, there are people who make a living as specialists in influencing us. The real question comes down to: “What do I want my life to be used for, and am I accountable for that happening, or am I plodding along and living out someone else’s design?”

For a decade after graduate school, the above ideas percolated in my head, after I saw the book “Build Your Own Life Brand!” in an airport. In that book, I saw the opportunity to define a personal brand and live in it. I read the book and was unable to do the work suggested in it. Nearly twenty years later, I’ve finally broken the surface! For so long it was little or no progress…

You Can Do It: Declare Your Personal Brand

It’s hard. It’s also the best inquiry I’ve ever undertaken. “Know thyself”, is ancient wisdom, and Shakespeare upped the ante when he wrote, “to thine own self be true”. Take the opportunity. If you don’t yet know or aren’t comfortable, step back and declare the intention to declare an intention. Just define your personal brand, the mark you’ll leave in the world.

Like me, it may take you a decade or two to finally get some traction. Or, with better guidance, you’ll much more quickly see the things that hold you back. You’ll see it in action. You’ll see your response (or lack of response) to it. As you do, you’ll find your world making more and more sense. All your choices will become easier because they’ll naturally flow from your intention, or they’ll be easier to reject because they materially contradict your intention.

Do the hard work first — or eventually. The sooner the better. Things get easier from there. Your whole life is waiting for you!

Here’s The Secret: Just Begin. Take Action.

Do you remember any of the scariest things you’ve every done? Walked into a new classroom. Shook the hand of an adult. Met a celebrity. Asked a lovely prospect out on a date. Bought personal intimate products. Do you remember what you did to overcome fear in this area? How did you defeat fear? Do you recall how you finally beat fear? Whether you took a second or a decade, the answer is simple — not always easy — but simple. You just did it!

You may have had help (that’s the way I recommend you do it). Maybe you were coerced, or maybe you gutted through it like you were walking to your execution. In any event, you did it. There’s no magic. There’s just declaring an intention, defining the actions to achieve the intention, then taking action.

Consider And Act

  1. Commit: Spend 10 minutes writing a list of the things most important to you.
  2. Share: Spend 10 minutes sharing your list with 5 people who care about you.
  3. Promote: Spend 10 minutes sharing your list with 5 people you care about.
  4. Act: Every day, take one action explicitly designed to cause or support something you care about.
  5. Feeling stuck? Perform a values exercise to focus your thinking about what’s important to you.
  6. Share your experience below or with others. How did it go? What did you learn? Your experience will help others.

Contact me with related advice, information, and referrals below. I appreciate your contribution!


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Dylan Cornelius helps business people create laser-like focus on exactly what they want in their lives and businesses, re-invent themselves, their lifestyles, and their business systems to powerfully support getting those results, devise workable action plans to deliver the results, and master the skills necessary to build and sustain the results — all in 10 sessions over 4 months.

Our approach works because it enables anyone to quickly leverage fundamentals of sustainable change revealed in:
– a decade coaching individuals to breakthrough results in their lives, including weight and fitness, job and career, relationships and effectiveness, satisfaction and decision-making,
– more than two decades building products and leading large scale change for Fortune 500 companies including Dun & Bradstreet, Oracle, IBM, Accenture, Deloitte Consulting, Best Buy, Circuit City, CVS, Sears Holdings, Ross Stores (Dress For Less), and Applied Materials,
– training in neuroscience and human development at UC Berkeley, management of innovation at Santa Clara University, and ontology and phenomenology at Landmark Worldwide.

You care because any aspect of your life or business that does not serve you, your family, and community diminishes the gift you’ve been given in life.


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Also published on Medium.