We were in a meeting recently with a client who was describing how she had lost herself.

In an effort to please her boss and succeed with her team, she had started to do what she believed they valued, would make her likable, and would move her forward. She was totally out of touch with what she thought about her department, what she believed needed to happen to succeed, how she would be most effective, and what she needed from her boss and her team to get the most significant results.

She is not alone. One of the major themes we hear, with women and men alike, is the feeling of having lost themselves to their work. They describe trying to fit in, comply with the culture, be liked, be considered a team player, etc. It starts simply, often by staying quiet when you have a thought that differs from the group, and then everyone believes you see it as they do. After that, it’s harder to bring in a different perspective. And, it feels good to feel connected to the group. So, you start to mirror their approach.

It wasn’t your intention to disappear, but it happened in subtle ways.

Sometimes, as we encourage people to live at the center of their own lives they will ask us if that is selfish. We assure them that it isn’t. You see, if you don’t live at the center of your own life, who will?

Navigating work and life is challenging, and you need to be at the center of your life to do it well. That doesn’t mean others don’t matter but it does mean that you must matter as well. It is important that you pause and reflect on what matters to you, that you listen to your thoughts, feelings, body and spirit as you are making your way through your day, and that you consider if what you are about to say or do is aligned with your goals and passion.

Remember, we define leadership as the willingness to influence your world (not stand at the sidelines, not ignore your wisdom and perspective, but genuinely influence your world) and to be influenced by your world as well.

This week, we’d like you to consider those places in your life where you believe that you have lost yourself, whether at work, at home, or in your community, and then spend some time getting back to you. Make room in your day to reflect on what you think, what you value, and what you hold dear.

Remember, if you lose yourself, you will never find your way and your way matters to the world.

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