Are you what you are or what?

You cannot be anyone you want to be.

You cannot be anyone you want to be?


-Stephen Cope

In his book The Great Work of Your Life, Stephen Cope highlights Krishna’s guidance for Arjuna from the Bhagavad Gita to discuss the yogic idea of dharma or life’s work/path. Growing up, many of us may have been encouraged by being told that we could be anyone we want to be; that if we just put our mind to it, we could be anyone. However, according to Cope’s interpretation of the Gita, this is simply not true if we want to be happy.

Yes, our ability to succeed when we apply ourselves is vast. Yes, we can accomplish things that many may have doubted. However, according to the Gita and Cope, “you can only expect a fulfilling life if you dedicate yourself to finding out who you are.” You can only truly be you.

In reading this, a light bulb clicked on. Of course! If we spend our lives trying to be who and what others expect, or a duplicate of someone we look up to, or as good as our ‘competition’, we will be dangling that happiness carrot out of our reach forever. Only when we surrender to being our authentic selves will we succeed and feel whole.

Oscar Wilde is quoted (but not clearly proven) as saying, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” However, we often model ourselves after others and try to be someone we are not.

Many people experience depression and hopelessness because they have shaped their lives around what others think, who others tell them they should be, and the roles they feel they should fulfill, rather than allowing their own desires to guide them into being themselves.

We all experience losing our way at times; we forget who we authentically are and we get caught up in expectations and appearances. Based on the judgment of others and if we will live up to those expectations, we may even be afraid to fail, but as Krishna points out to Arjuna, we are truly only failing at our life if we are trying to live it as someone we are not.

It is so common to fall into the trap of thinking that we will be happy if we just reach that next goal, lose 20 pounds, get that raise, pay off that debt. When in reality, we will only be happy when we allow ourselves to be who we truly are. And once we are happy, we will more easily succeed at all of those other goals.

Don’t be mistaken…Even when we know who we are and what our path is, we won’t experience a carefree ride without bumps and roadblocks along the way. There will still be challenge and difficulty simply because life is involved. Remember, Stephen Pressfield tells us that Resistance increases when we are on the verge of moving ourselves to a “higher plane” of existence. It’s that sign that we are getting close.

If we do the work to identify what we are passionate about, what we are gifted at, and what our dharma or soul’s purpose is, that doesn’t mean that it will automatically be easy. We will still have days on which we feel we need a break. We will still experience challenges and at times, doubts related to our purpose. But, we will also be able to see that if we were to move away from our passion and purpose, our life wouldn’t be the same. We wouldn’t be the same.


Stories of highly successful people tell about the failures they experienced along the way and how they had to figure out who they were before they were able to become successful. Only when we are authentically ourselves, can we live a happy and fulfilling life, but this means that we must put in the effort to learn who we truly are. We must take steps toward that path. And when we do, we will also find that the Universe will support that decision and will help us to be our authentic selves. Why? Because only when we are offering the world what only we can offer can the Universe live in peace.

So, this week, I invite you to begin thinking about who you are. This work takes time and energy, but it is the greatest work of your life. Who are you when no one else is around or watching? Allow yourself to be that person. What would you do if you knew that you could not fail? Even more importantly…what would you do even if there was a chance that you could fail? What must you do? It’s now or never.

Only when we live authentically as who we are can we find happiness.  Even if your dharma and passion are not in your day job, find time to give yourself the gift of tapping in to what you love and what makes you you when you can. Stephen Cope calls our dharma “the gift” and lets us know that it cannot be taken away, only dampened and forgotten about.

Go be yourself today. No one else can be.  ou are the best you there ever was. The world needs what only you can bring.

I believe in you.

Talk again soon.


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