Today's post is written by Elisa Schmitz, an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, and the author of Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success.

To become the fire, you need to be your authentic self. Getting clear on who you are; knowing your fears, needs, desires, and values; discovering what you believe in — that’s self-awareness. People who hone the skill of self-awareness know what they’re good at and what they’re passionate about. That self-awareness leads them to be their authentic selves, which results in more success.

To be highly successful, you have to be really good at what you do. Realizing what you’re good at, or becoming really good at something, often takes time, repetition, and a lot of exploration — both of the inner self and the outside world. Someone who has done the work of exploring their interests, beliefs, and talents and has aligned them with a successful career path or business idea is likely pursuing what they’re good at and what they’re passionate about. They’re self-aware, and they follow their passions as they climb life’s ladder.

They recognize their weaknesses and play to their strengths. They know what drives them, and they’re comfortable in their own skin. They take as many reps as possible in the areas they want to improve and grow. Secure in and true to who they are, there’s no need to put on a facade or to mask their true personality. They’re being their authentic self. They own their authenticity.

Many of us may think it’s better to be someone other than our true selves. The differences that make us feel we are outsiders may lead us to believe that adopting a persona that aligns more closely with insiders — people we see as successful — will help us succeed. But the truth is a well-kept secret: the very things you fear might hold you back are the superpowers you need to succeed and move forward. The differences that make you, you — that’s your authenticity. Own that, because being your authentic self is a key to success.

Being your authentic self requires self-awareness, which means two things: (1) having intimate knowledge about your inner self (your passions, talents, and vulnerabilities), and (2) having intimate knowledge about how your inner self interacts with the outside world (how your passions, talents, and vulnerabilities align with career paths, business concepts, educational and social opportunities, and even other people). Self-awareness is you getting to know and understand you by observing you in the world.

Self-awareness means knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. What you like and what you don’t like. What motivates you and what bores you. What other people praise you for and what they criticize you for. What bosses promote you for or demote (or even fire) you for. All those things can help you become highly self-aware. Once you have that level of awareness, your authentic self can shine.

People who are their authentic selves are more likely to succeed because they are self-aware. That self-awareness drives them to do what they’re good at and what they’re passionate about. Because their self-awareness leads them to do what they are good at and what they love, they’re more likely to succeed.

This pattern repeated itself throughout my career. Self-awareness led me to understand my talents and passions. I leveraged my strengths on the job and to start businesses that helped people. I succeeded because I did what I was good at and what I was passionate about. I succeeded because I was being authentically me. Here’s how that has played out in my life:

Being your authentic self requires you to be self-aware. Over the years, I had taken a hard look at myself — me getting to know and understand me by observing me in the world — to the point where I knew my biggest career strength would be using my communication skills to help others.

Being self-aware leads you to do what you’re good at and passionate about. I followed my passion for journalism, and then later for pregnancy information, to start a company to inform and inspire expectant moms.

The more self-aware you are, the more likely you are to succeed. The website drew the attention of an engaged audience, brand customers, and major media companies — ultimately being acquired. I then followed my passion and skills again to build a second media business.

This is a simple formula you can follow no matter where you are in your journey. Use it regularly to check in with your self-awareness or as a reminder that one of the most important things you can do to be successful is just be yourself. Taking the time to get self-aware, to get clear on who you really are, will pay off when the authentic you is allowed to shine!

About the Author: Elisa Schmitz is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, and the author of Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success. She’s the Latina founder and CEO of, an inspiring digital media platform that makes the world a happier, healthier, and more delicious place — 30 seconds at a time. She’s also the founder of iParenting, a “Best of the Web” digital media company that was acquired by the Walt Disney Company. After the sale, Elisa worked for Disney as director and executive editor of the Disney Interactive Media Group. She has been a newspaper columnist, magazine editor, radio and video host, and creator of content and marketing programs for various Fortune 500 companies. 

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