There is no better time than the present to become the best version of yourself. Trust your gut, apply your strengths daily, and recognize that you are a work-in-progress.
These were some of the takeaways from the recently concluded Belle de Jour Learning Series dubbed ''Choose to be your #BestMe,'' a virtual event held in partnership with UNILAB's Medicol Advance 400.
Present to share valuable life lessons and tips were positive psychologist and Gallup-certified strengths coach Celine Sugay, conservationist and entrepreneur Nella Lomotan, and actor/producer and youth and environmental advocate Dingdong Dantes.
Heeding the voice
The event kicked off with Nella Lomotan's story, a former employee of a coffee chain company handling its corporate social responsibility (CSR) division. Her job entailed going to the mountains and regularly meeting locals in these areas for community development.
Lomotan recalled her corporate life, "One of the last projects that I did before I left was going to one of the most remote communities in Mindanao and installing 70 solar panel systems for 70 homes without electricity up in the mountain.''
''There were a lot of projects that we did. It was very purposeful because we engaged with the community. I saw the impact we were able to make as a brand,'' she added.
Despite a thriving career in CSR, Lomotan felt that she could still be the #BestMe by doing more for the communities they were helping. She knew that her weekend trips were not enough for the community development that she wanted to do – to empower them for livelihood development, eco-tourism, and conservation.
Lomotan made her decision after a one weekend trip to Palawan where she met a remote Tagbanua community.
''During that exploration, I heard God's voice saying 'leave.' When I heard that voice, I prayed for it. There were so many signs that showed me that it was time to leave [my corporate life]. That was when I chose the next best version of me."
Today, Lomotan is the founder of Eco-Explorations, a social and environmental enterprise, and the managing director and co-founder of Philippine Parks and Biodiversity. She also co-founded Soul, Speak, Mindfulness, and Yoga Retreats, a wellness brand holding health and wellness experiences in nature-based Philippine destinations.
A healthy mindset
To the TV and movie-viewing public, Dingdong Dantes is an actor and film producer. To Filipinos whose lives he was able to change through his YES! Pinoy Foundation, Dantes is a social activist. To actress Marian Rivera and their kids Zia and Sixto, he is a loving husband and a doting father. But believe it or not, the man himself refuses to think that he is doing perfectly fine in all aspects.
''When I started 20 years ago, sabi ko [sa sarili ko], 'Oh, my God… paano ba 'ko makaka-survive dito?' But through the years, talagang sinabi ko lang [sa sarili ko], kailangan ko lang [to] continuously improve 'yung sarili ko, 'yung craft [ko] by observing people, by joining workshops,'' he shared. ''Hindi ka dapat kampante na, 'I am okay. I am already this. Okay na ako.' Kumbaga sige, mamaniin mo na lang lahat. No. Never. Dapat talaga umpisa pa lang alam mong may area pa for improvement at gusto mong mag-improve.''
[When I started 20 years ago, I told myself, 'how can I survive here?' But through the years I told myself that I just need to continuously improve myself and my craft by observing people and joining workshops. You should never feel complacent that, 'I am okay. I am already this. This is okay.' To the point that you will just breeze through everything. No. Never. From the start, you need to know that there are areas for improvement in yourself and you want to work on those.]
This type of mindset was very much aligned with his work as the Medicol brand ambassador since the brand has recently started its #BestMe campaign which empowers people to be the best versions of themselves by fighting against different pains and challenges.
Dantes' most recent #BestMe moment came when he launched DingDongPH, a delivery service and e-commerce platform that aims to help displaced colleagues in the show business. It was an idea conceived pre-pandemic that almost did not push through.
''Alam ko na hindi ko naman siya space na parang hindi ko naman alam paano gawin. So I parked the idea and then, 'yun all of a sudden dumating nga ito [pandemic]. Nandito na tayo sa state na ito and parang I think all the more mas kailangan siya ngayon.''
[I know that this is not my area of expertise, I did not know how to do it. So I parked the idea and then, all of a sudden this pandemic came. We are all in this state and I think all the more we need something like it today.]
Needless to say that no amount of pain and challenges, not even the current health situation, can stop Dantes from becoming the best version of himself.
''I am still a work in progress, just like how I approach projects in the movies,'' he revealed.
Know your talents and strengths
To shed light on the reasons why you should unlock your strengths, how to unlock them, and knowing what to do with them after is registered psychologist and Gallup-certified strengths coach, Celine Sugay.
''The key to success is to fully understand how to apply your greatest talents and strengths in your everyday life,'' said Sugay who is also an ICF-certified professional coach and is one of the first psychologists in the country with a certification in positive psychology.
She further shared, ''Talent is anything that comes naturally to you. It comes out in the way we think, the way we feel, and even the way we behave. Our strengths are the things that we already do well.''
According to Sugay, Gallup found that people who choose to be the #BestMe and use their strengths are 6x likely to be engaged in their jobs, are 6x likely to do what they do best every day, and are 3x likely to have an excellent quality of life.
''Using our strengths can help us increase our self-awareness and our self-acceptance. We can increase happiness and positive emotions. Some people even find meaning and purpose. We can increase productivity, improve work performance, become more efficient in problem-solving, even accomplish more daily and more of our goals. We can build better and stronger relationships, focus on what is good for us and others,'' she said.
Choose to be your #BestMe
Deciding to be your #BestMe begins by encouraging yourself to make tough decisions and believing that you will succeed like Lomotan. It is also continuously evaluating yourself and recognizing that you have areas for improvement like Dantes.
And as coach Sugay said, ''Invest in your strengths, find ways to use them every day, share them with those around you, and use your strengths to spot strengths in others. 'Cultivate a deep understanding of yourself – not only what your strengths and weaknesses are, but also how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and where you can make your greatest contributions. Because only when you operate from strengths can you achieve true excellence' (words by Peter Drucker) and achieve your #BestMe.''
Watch the ''Choose to Be Your #BestMe'' live event by clicking this link.
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