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Don't Try to Be What You're Not If you really want to make it big on your own, be the best version of you, not some false replica of someone else.

By Steve Tobak

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you want to make it big on your own, the worst thing you can do is try to mold yourself into something you're not or construct a disingenuous facade. Whenever you try to emulate someone else's behavior or manifest some image of how you think you should be, it will end badly and I'll tell you why:

1. It won't work. Your true persona – what makes you the person you are – goes way deeper than you think it does. Besides your own unique DNA and upbringing, your emotions, thoughts and behavior at any point in time are dictated by knowledge and experience you've accumulated over decades. You really can't change who you are.

2. It will come across badly. At best you'll come across as disingenuous and at worst you become a psychopath. What that really means is, over time your carefully constructed persona will crack under the strain of reality. The more you fight it, the more the cracks will show. Eventually it will break. That's never a good thing.

3. You risk losing whatever it is that makes you special. What makes us unique is the sum total of all our qualities and experiences. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That's why you can have odd features and strange quirks and still look beautiful or have a powerful presence. It's how it all comes together that matters. Don't mess with it.

Related: Never Turn Your Back on Reality

That said, there's a staggering amount of content written every day about the behavior, habits, characteristics, and who knows what else of supposedly successful, wealthy and happy people. The pressure to contort your personality and conform to those de facto cultural norms is enormous, however misguided and foolish.

To empower you and give you confidence to resist that pressure and be the real you, I'm going to show you that someone can be successful, satisfied, secure and reasonably happy -- not just by being themselves, but by being more or less the opposite of all the popular nonsense you read about every day.

And while every word of this is true, I'm definitely not saying you should be like me. On the contrary, I'm trying to show you that however you are can work for you as it did for me.

  • I don't network, believe in self-improvement, think about productivity, manage my time, organize my days, make lists, delegate tasks, get anything out of inspirational quotes, or put much faith in studies, research or academics.
  • I am not an optimist, a positive thinker, a morning person, a particularly nice guy, spiritual, politically correct or much of a team player.
  • I attribute most of my success to unpopular qualities nobody talks about anymore: making smart decisions, climbing the corporate ladder, observing people, relationships, discipline, prioritization and work ethic.
  • I am a workaholic, a multitasker, a neurotic micromanaging control freak and my own worst enemy.
  • I think social networks, crowds and collectives breed conformity and groupthink while suppressing innovation, creativity and diversity.
  • I question everything, believe nothing I read or hear, trust nobody's judgment but my own (and my wife's) and don't really follow anyone.
  • I do not see myself as an entrepreneur, a CEO or a business leader, although I've been all three at one time or another.
  • I have never had a personal blog or spent one nanosecond branding or marketing myself, and I rarely if ever comment on other people's articles or write reviews.
  • I never take naps and I rarely take vacations or meditate.
  • I have no debt, don't buy lots of stuff and have never lived beyond my means.
  • I live a sustainable lifestyle (solar-powered home, hybrid car, compost, recycle) because it's the right thing to do, not because of some cause that's more fad and politics than science.
  • I drink too much alcohol and caffeine but I do actually exercise, sleep and eat right, more or less. Go figure.

So you see, if I can be happy and successful in spite of being everything that conventional wisdom says is wrong or unpopular, that means whatever your makeup, whatever qualities you have or don't have, however you behave, you can and should have the self-confidence to go with it and make it work for you.

Be the best version of you, not some false replica of someone else. That's the best chance you've got of making it in this world.

Related: Why True Leaders Are So Rare

Steve Tobak

Author of Real Leaders Don't Follow

Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive, and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur Press, October 2015). Tobak runs Silicon Valley-based Invisor Consulting and blogs at, where you can contact him and learn more.

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