The Beginner’s Guide to Being Congruent
Average Reading Time: 9 minutes
Have you ever come across someone who knew exactly what they want out of life?
Anything they say, they mean, and will quickly act on. They seem confident, eager, excited and downright passionate. You can just feel the energy. What impression did that put upon you?
Chances are you were experiencing the power of congruency.
Tony Robbins first brought this term to my attention in his Unleash the Power Within 4-day seminar as well as most of his CD’s, talks and books. Tony is about as congruent as they come. But what does that mean? This was not the same math term I learned in high school and to be honest, it’s a way of life that is difficult to define. The best way is to experience it. But let me give it a try.
The general definition of congruence is: identical in form; in agreement or harmony.
Now apply this to a life approach. Someone who lives with congruency acts in direct accordance with their dreams, desires, beliefs, values, mission and goals. They do not let the thoughts of others affect their approach to the world. They take their own unique path paved by their understanding of themselves.
An awesome feeling of inherent trust comes from someone who is congruent. It’s pretty obvious. Whether you know it or not, congruency is often what attracts you to another person. People want to be around people who are congruent. Customers buy from congruent salesmen. People seek friends who conduct themselves congruently in their presence. Students are inspired by congruent teachers. Women fall in love with congruent men. Congruency leads to attraction and connection…something we are all looking for.
It turns out that as humans we naturally want to act in a way that is consistent with our past actions and beliefs, as Robert Cialdini proved in his Influence studies. The difficulty is we often don’t know our true beliefs and values. Many of us have not spent the proper time sharpening the saw because we were in such a hurry to cut the tree down. Before you know it many of us are busy cutting with the wrong tools, dull saws or even chopping the wrong tree altogether.
As the adage goes, you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. In order to feel genuinely fulfilled, you must live congruently.
When you are congruent some amazing things happen:
1. Your confidence goes through the roof.
2. Your energy and desire to make a difference increase dramatically.
3. You feel at peace that you are going about life with intention.
4. Decisions become easy to make.
5. Things start to fall into place.
Once you know what you want and believe in, you start to show it more through your words and actions, which leads to being around more similar people, which leads to more doors opening in your favor. It’s an amazing phenomenon. This will begin to happen in both a conscious and often subconscious manner.
Congruency means living on purpose. But you first must know your purpose…
In order to get congruent, you must do two things:
1. Understand what it is you stand for and are passionate about adding to this world.
2. Set your life up so that you can act in line with these beliefs on a daily basis.
Step 1: Understand Yourself
The process of self discovery will never end, and it should begin as early as possible. Sadly the only thing undergraduate and early education seems to focus on is acquiring skills. There is little to no time spent on which skills actually might be best for each individual to acquire. The question of what are you best at and what is most important to you in the world are rarely addressed. It isn’t too surprising, since these are the hardest questions you’ll ever answer (but that’s still no reason to skip over it).
It is our duty to understand. And there are some amazing resources to help us do so. Foundation steps include the following; most of which cannot be simply checked off but more realized as you live your life.
1. Keep a journal of what inspires you. Let your thoughts run wild. Get them out of your head so you can get down to real thinking. Most importantly, keep a running list of what inspires you. I have done this since I moved to Spain after university. Especially while in another country, where people’s minds seem to be naturally more open, the things you’ll hear people pursuing will really make you think. Anytime something catches my eye or inspires me, I open up my journal and get it onto paper. Over the years you will have a running story of how you might enjoy spending your time.
2. Discover your strengths. One of the most powerful things I’ve done is to assess the things I am best at. The natural and unique strengths I have to give to the world. I have found some invaluable tools for this along the way. The best resource I’ve come across is Strengths Finder 2.0. It’s a book that comes with a 30-minute Strengths Assessment that asks a series of questions and gives you your top 5 strengths out of about 30. I could not believe how right on this felt.
Included in your report are also suggested daily and weekly actions to serve your strengths, job roles and career suggestions as well as a list of the most important strengths you should look for in a business partner (or any partner for the matter). My business partner and I both took the test and assigned job roles in our business accordingly.
Knowing my strengths has been unbelievably powerful and has led me in a path that has created a lot of enjoyment and fulfillment. For those of you interested, my top five are: Achiever, Positivity, Maximizer, Input and Discipline. One suggestion was to do all I could to write, teach and speak to help people. ReadingForYourSuccess has made for a great fit.
3. Create a Mission Statement. A mission defines your essence and the mark you’d like to leave on the world. It should inspire you to jump out of bed with passion to live your purpose. When you come up with one that really jives with you, the power is incredible. I first heard about a mission from my father and then had it reinforced when I read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (first personal development book I ever read) and again in his 8th Habit. I’ve been keeping and honing a mission statement ever since. I refine it every year or six months. I’ve found New Years and my birthday to be good times to reassess.
The current version of my mission is: To be an explorer. Make discoveries and put a dent in the world! Live a happy, grateful and passionate life, with extraordinary relationships and better the lives of others. No regrets.
Every time I say these words, they get me fired up for life! Find what those words are for you.
Steven Covey’s 8th Habit website has some powerful tools if you need a jump start.
4. Know Your Values. Your values are the rules and standards that guide your life. Most of us have an idea of what we value but often there is not much clarity behind it. You might say that integrity or family or friendship are what you value most. But what about health? Can you really give all you want to your family and friends if you are not in good physical condition? That’s for you to decide. Tony Robbins calls these positive values Moving-Towards Values.
First, understand what your values are. Second, prioritize them. Third, define rules that will allow you to easily experience these. Do the same for the values you least want to experience, called Moving-Away-From Values.
For example one of my values is Health/Vitality/Energy. My rule for achieving this is: Anytime I do something empowering for my body by stretching a muscle, pushing a limit, eating alkaline and all kinds of healthy vibrant foods. This is very easy for me to achieve and I feel great about it. Think of what’s really most important to you. What makes you who you are and list out those values and rules. And make them easy to feel. I gave a speech on Values to my Toastmaster’s group a few months back. You can download my Values Worksheet from my talk if you’d like help.
Decisions become so easy when you know your values, and without realizing it, you will subconsciously start to act more in line with them. There is a great section on values in chapters 15-17 of Tony Robbins book Awaken The Giant Within. I encourage you to start there.
My Top Moving-Towards Values (in order): Health/Vitality/Energy, Confidence/Courage, Love/Connection/Family, Honesty/Integrity, Happiness/Playfulness.
My Top Moving-Away-From Values (in order): Caring about what others think, Jealousy/Envy, Rejection, Fear of Failure, Guilt
Values are a big topic and many books are written solely on understanding them. I hope this will at least get you started. I plan to further delve into values in future articles.
Step 2: Apply Your Understanding to Everyday Life.
Once you begin to have an understanding of your mission, strengths and vision for your life and purpose, you must make a conscious effort to tap into this, your essence, your congruency, on a daily basis. The following should help.
1. Constantly remind yourself of your beliefs. Repetition is the mother of skill. You must ingrain what you learned about yourself. Do this weekly, if not daily. Every Monday morning I take a few minutes to internalize my mission and review my values and strengths. I then plan out how I can best apply my strengths to the week ahead. At this point, after years of doing it, these have become second nature. I viscerally know the core that makes up who I am. Weekly reminders keep my acting congruently.
2. Find a career that allows you to be congruent. This is also the topic of hundreds of books and something that ReadingForYourSuccess pays special attention to. Once you understand yourself, unfortunately many people realize that their career is not congruent with who they are. It has simply become a passive way to receive a paycheck and get by.
You cannot be congruent and wholly fulfilled if your career is not congruent with who you are. We spend most of our lives at work. Honor who you are and spend that time on something that leverages your strengths. This will be a tough leap but more than worth it. Dick Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute and Workbook is an awesome place to start, as well as Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week (but don’t read this unless you are really ready to pull the rip cord…).
3. Seize opportunities and follow through. When something comes your way that you know would utilize your strengths, then jump on it. Get to know the person, industry or company that catches your eye. At least make a note of it and better yet, get committed to learning more. You will know when something catches your eye. You must follow through on it to be congruent. This could be a new idea, a person, business, seminar, you name it. Few things feel worse than lacking the confidence that you’ll follow through and not much feels better than knowing you’ll do what you say and mean. When you are speaking and acting on things that honor who you are, that is congruency. Others will greatly respect you for this.
The simple equation is that the more you know about yourself, the more likely you will be to live a life of congruency. When is now a good time to begin your discovery?
Personal Story: Recognizing Congruency and Taking Action
I have been deliberately learning about myself for the past 6 years and especially in the past 3. I now know enough about my strengths and essence that I can often recognize an opportunity to act congruently. About 2 years ago I was taking a two-day speed reading seminar in San Francisco. There were about 10 people in the class and one teacher (who looked about my age). The class was invigorating and I learned a ton. My speed increased by about 3x in the two days. Throughout the weekend I was so inspired by all I was learning and how awesome it was that our teacher got the chance to spread something so powerful.
I knew my Positivity and Input strengths suggested that I jump at any chance to teach, learn and speak. So I made a little note in my journal as I always do when congruency catches my eye. A few weeks later I followed up with the teacher to see if he needed any help and it turns out he was expanding to San Francisco and was the owner of the business! Almost two years later, I am now one of the main teachers in the San Francisco area and have also gotten to help build his business.
All this just from asking. But the only reason I asked was because I knew enough about myself to recognize a chance to further my congruency. It’s amazing the stars that align when you’re congruent.
Make it your purpose to understand your life’s purpose
Go through everyday with your eyes and mind wide open ready to notice anything that gets your heart beating, inspires you or makes you proud. The more you are present to your emotions and reactions to life’s experiences, the more intimately you will know yourself. And the better your relationship with yourself, the more congruent you’ll be able to live your life. It’s contagious. You will not only be enhancing your own life, but the life of those around you. Congruency inspires congruency.
Be convinced of your reason for being on this earth and your positive impact will be something the world will appreciate. The magic you will make happen as a result will be remarkable.
Note: The above is a brief guide. For a much deeper dive into this all-too-important topic, have a look at our Live Off Your Passion Guided-Discovery course.