Written by: Scott Dinsmore

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.

Note: The above is a brief guide. For a much deeper dive into this all too important topic, have a look at Jonthan Mead’s Reclaim Your Dreams. Powerful stuff.

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…It’s super powerful).

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.

What do you do to live congruently? What steps have you or do you plan to take to better understand yourself. Do you need help?  Share in the comments section below. I am here to assist in any way possible.

If you liked this article, please Tweet about it or tell your friends on Facebook using the links below. I’d appreciate it.

Useful Books and Resources:

Jonthan Mead’s Reclaim Your Dreams

Awaken The Giant Within

Strengths Finder 2.0

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

8th Habit

8th Habit website

Values Worksheet

What Color Is Your Parachute

What Color is Your Parachute Workbook

4-Hour Work Week

Unlimited Power


Leave a Reply

53 Responses to “The Beginner’s Guide to Being Congruent”

  1. Great article Scott. Congruency is very real and very powerful. But like anything worth doing in life it takes effort. The things I’ve done to become more congruent have nearly always been about identifying and changing beliefs I had about myself and others that didn’t reflect reality… they weren’t congruent. It is difficult to identify the assumptions because we’ve created them into our own reality, and we lose awareness of them like happy fish who forget it is the water that allows them to swim. I don’t yet know if its possible to become 100% congruent. Like Tony says, you can never eliminate your problems, but you CAN change your life so you have high quality problems.

  2. Scott says:

    So true Steve. You cannot eliminate problems but as Tony and Viktor Frankl say, it is totally up to you to decide what these problems mean to you and your life. How will they serve you?

    Awesome to hear you’ve spent so much time working on your congruency. I agree that it’s never something that you just check off. That’s the beauty of it. Since you can never actually get there, then you have the journey of becoming more congruent to appreciate and learn from. You can always get better so we will always work towards improvement.

    Thanks for the great comment!

    Scott

  3. katie says:

    This is really inspired stuff. I love the way you wrap things up by advising looking everyday for your purpose. Those emotional reactions, those heart beaters are where it lies. I love that. I am going to really try to take that stance. Nice post Scott. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to dig into your blog but I really like it and am going to subscribe right now.

  4. Make it your purpose to understand your life’s purpose – I really like that. I always know when I’ve been touched by something that’s congruent for me, because as you’ve pointed out, I get a physical reaction – my heart rate increased, I feel inspired, I feel energised. Only recently have I learned to act on that, and it pays dividends. This is a wonderful post, well done.

  5. Scott says:

    @ Katie: You are awesome Katie. Thanks so much for the kind words. Goes a log way, especially with some of the things of yours that I’ve read. Very cool of you to subscribe too. When it comes to purpose and self understanding I really think it’s about the little things you notice and do every day. You never know when your calling is going to cross your path. So be ready and pay attention. Your body’s natural reactions to things will lead you there. That’s what’s so cool. As long as you notice things like “wow my heart is beating really fast right now” or “I am all of a sudden feeling so alive”. Stop and ask yourself what just happend to cause that. You will be on the right track to congruency.

    Happy Reading!
    Scott

  6. Scott says:

    @ Claire: Thanks so much Claire. Aren’t those biophysical reactions awesome? They are like our natural little alarm for telling us to “Pay attention! You might want to figure out what cased that great feeling so you can feel it again.” So glad you found the article helpful. I hope to hear about the next major thing that really gets you fired up. Come back and tell me when it happens. Deal?

    Happy Reading!
    Scott

  7. Scott,
    Wonderful post – practical and inspiring. Thank you.

  8. Scott says:

    @Eileen: Thanks so much. I hope it proves useful in whatever is ahead for you!

    Happy Reading,
    Scott

  9. Michelle says:

    Great post – one of the kind I like to reread often.

    I’m also most pleased to see I have read most of the books on your list!

  10. Michelle says:

    P.S. I have also stumbled upon your work / this site, not once, but TWICE this evening; via Tim Ferris’ blog and Tina at Think Simple Now…. the universe must be trying to tell me something ;)

  11. Scott says:

    @ Michelle: Thanks for stopping by. That’s awesome that you’ve been doing so much reading of my favorite stuff. Any one of those books can make a huge difference. Very funny you’ve seen me on Tim and Tina’s sites. Those are my two most consistent reads out there. It’s been fun to be a contributor there from time to time (at least on Tina’s). Think Simple Now is awesome!

    I think we seem to be traveling is some pretty thought provoking areas together. I really appreciate the comment.

    Happy Reading!
    Scott

  12. maria grant says:

    I have only recently discovered congruency,and what it means. My life is changing, but I keep slipping back, I do realize it is an ongoing process, and I need to put the effort in. I am very committed to doing this, as the benefits are quite amazing!! I am writing more in my journal, and Im becoming aware of what inspires me x

  13. Scott says:

    @ Maria: Congrats on your recent discovery! I think you are in for some fun (and surely some fulfillment) as you begin to learn more about what ignites you. I look forward to hearing what you learn.

    Enjoy the journey!
    Scott

  14. Marion says:

    Scott
    Congratulations on a great post. It is not often that anyone mentions being congruent and it is so important. When you are not in integrity with who you are all kinds of issues arise – including ill health.
    Inside we know who we are and what matters but often we try to “fit in” and to do that we move out of integrity with ourselves.
    When you know your purpose it brings meaning and direction as opposed to sleep walking your way through life.

    • Scott says:

      I could not agree more Marion. It does come down to integrity, doesn’t it? If you don’t take the time to figure out some things about yourself from the start, trying to ‘fit in’ will start to run your life. Ever since I realized I was on my own path years ago, I became so much more confident and content with how I spend my time.

      Great comment,
      Scott

  15. Jennifer says:

    Thank you SO much for this Scott! This is exactly what I needed to read today! Your site is such a contribution!

    • Scott says:

      Awesome to hear Jennifer. Comments like yours are exactly why I do my best to write and contribute the best way I know how. I hope you’ll stick around!

      Scott

  16. Julian says:

    Nice one, Scott!

    It’s also taken me sometime to realise that I was incongruent with myself and I became depressed. It feels like with the majority of the books that you’ve listed that I’ve read, plus doing research on the Internet with any questions that I have to see that I’m not the only one out there (and sourcing what best options to take to help move forward through trials, errors and feedback), I’ve removed many layers like on an onion to ‘get back to myself’ and ‘remember’ who I was, before getting caught up with issues that took over my life, like rejection, fears, and other so-called ‘silly’ things.

    I felt like I only woke up not so long ago. Working through the barriers, working more on doing things with gut feeling and intuition, has been rewarded in becoming authentic again and congruent, to the point where I feel like I’m a young child and the world is my playground. In my case, I use to worry my mother when I was a toddler running around and walking up to strangers and just talking to them (even if I didn’t really have the vocab back then ;) ) without a worry, and I also used to spend ours with Lego coming up with all sorts of shapes, and designs, and being very creative. By having ‘remembered’ who I am, now I’m greeting all sorts of people again and having great conversations, friendships and relationships, and ‘just getting out there!’, and being hungry for all sorts of gatherings and activities. Work-wise, I’m doing graphic design, packaging, product design, getting into manufacturing and sales, and now going to study further in my original love of Lego: plastics engineering.

    Being congruent, for me, has a few meanings:
    - listening to my gut feelings and intuition more often;
    - ‘remembering’ and pinpointing those times when I was a child and felt invincible (as Scott mentions in his article) or felt at the top of my game without actually having to have developed that skill, and using them as clues as to who I am and what makes me at this point in time, to give me direction for the future;
    - if I think that I am a product of my environment, then I will continue to be like that. By accepting this, I victimise myself. Until my environment starts to become a product of (the congruent) me, I will keep working at it. At least I have taken steps to narrowing the ‘congruency gap’;
    - in Conversations With God (I’m not that religious, but rather, spiritual), there is a question about the purpose of relationships (any, including strangers, friends, business-related, whoever you meet). I bring it up, because we’re all individuals with unique abilities, and we have to work together. ‘Rather be disliked for who you are, rather than be liked for who you are not.’ – be authentic, be congruent, in other words, and be happy with myself. I may not be liked by everyone, but I can’t please everyone all the time. So, the answer to the purpose of relationships, is along the lines of: they’re opportunities for you to prove yourself to yourself, for the greater benefit of others. But if I’m not yet on the path to congruency, I’m in essence, being selfish, and ultimately, benefitting no-one.
    - and lastly, I believe we all have what it takes to have our own businesses – when it can be seen that we are working individually for ourselves, with congruency in mind, our strengths will shine through, others will see it and want to do business with us or partner up with us. Knowing our core business/area of expertise/strengths well, together with a good foundation of values and beliefs, will allow us to then develop the other skills/capabilities to balance our overall functioning, as businesses, and as individuals in general.

    Like you Scott, I am strengthened with Input too, so I felt this was an opportunity to ‘be congruent’. Apologies if I’ve perhaps hi-jacked your blog, but I’ve written these things down so that we can ‘work off each other’, and for the greater benefit of helping others who may read this message.

    All the best! Kind regards and thanks for the opportunity to ‘Input’. :)

    Julian

  17. Scott says:

    Awesome thoughts Julian! I love hearing that you’ve clearly seen the light when it comes to the importance of congruence. With comments like that, please ‘hijack’ my blog as you please ;). It’s amazing how much more powerful your impact feels on the world when you are truly living in alignment with what matters most to you and those around you. You nailed it with mentioning that being anything but congruent, ends up being selfish. The best thing you can do for others is live a congruent life. It is wildly contagious!

    Keep spreading the love and let me know any way I can help you along the adventure. That’s why I’m here. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on upcoming posts and trading ideas as them come (and I know they will).

    -Scott

  18. Carole says:

    Hi Scott,
    Can’t remember how I came across your blog but I love it and regularly forward your articles on to friends who I hope have since subscribed to your emails too!
    Keep up your very inspiring mission of passion & purpose!
    Cheers, Carole (from Australia)

  19. arundhati says:

    agreed.. congruence is important. i am among people who encourage me to be what i really am but also dont stop reminding me that i am not them and i should have been.
    congruency is the essence of what we do and even if i know what to do .. i must admit i still dont know how to …
    thanks for the steps

  20. Darren says:

    Scott, long but good article. I think there are some hidden gems here that you’ve pieced together from some of my favourite influencers.

    I think you would really appreciate the book, “Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” ~ By Daniel Pink

    2 Great tools I took from that book are a purpose statement (I have previously heard of it as a tombstone statement, meaning the sentence you would want written on your tomb) and writing down (I put mine on a card, on my bedside table) what ‘gets you up in the morning’ and ‘what keeps you up at night’ defined in one sentence each.

    Another book you may find interesting is entitled, “Be Great” by Peter Thomas, Founder of Century 21. He has a long(ish) chapter on Values as being the cornerstone of his success.

    I must say though through my experience as a coach, that I disagree with your recommendation to write down values you want to get away from. Not only is this a negative thing to put into writing (your mind processes images, those images can turn to reality), but I believe it to be counterproductive. I know traditional Tony Robbins train-of-thought tells us that there are basically only 2 things that motivate you (really untrue – read Drive, best book I read in 2010), moving towards pleasure or away from pain, but that doesn’t mean you should verbalize or put into imagery the pain you want to move away from, this draws un-needed attention to it.

    Thanks for the Strengths Finder 2.o recommendation, I’ve been eyeing that book for quite sometime, I think you just gave me the little nudge to commit to reading it.

    • Scott says:

      You are the fifth person that’s recommended Drive in the past few months. It’s time for me to read it! Very good point about moving away from values. I give much less focus to them but still like to be aware of them. My moving towards get much more attention.

      Enjoy Strength Finder. It was a life changer for me!

  21. So happy to find this article, Scott. Your blog has been really inspiring to me over the last two months as I step out and go after what I am really passionate about in life, namely: writing (blogging & screenwriting), acting, and helping people I care about step away from mediocrity & move toward finding what makes them really happy.

    The idea of congruence hits home with me right now & I’ll be bookmarking and revisiting this article often. I’ve been thinking & writing a ton about personal honesty (with oneself) lately and I think congruence brings that idea into perfect harmony because it is the epitome of honesty with oneself: you are allowing yourself to align with your dreams & to go after them without reservations – you are letting yourself be you.

    Again, thanks man. Love your work. Def gonna be linking to this article in the future.

    Chris

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