What is it to be your true self at work — not just the person filling a role, playing a part, acting professionally, or achieving a big project? Are you able to truly be your best and authentic self while maintaining professional credibility and influence?
Some women believe they must project a certain persona, subscribe to someone else’s expectations, work extremely hard, and “fake it until they make it” in order to get ahead. There is often no room for failure or they believe they must sacrifice other parts of life in order to get ahead in their career.
I believe there is a better way to be satisfied and achieve your professional goals, and it requires you to bring your real self to work each and every day. It is essential to be uniquely you by using your gifts and talents while maintaining your values and a sense of life balance.
It is important be your authentic self whether you are at home, with your friends, or volunteering, but even more so in the workplace. This is where you spend the majority of your waking hours each week, and where compassion and humanity often get left behind. Here are several ways to remain your authentic self and keep it real at the office.
1. Know Thyself
Understand and claim who you are, live by your strengths and values, and know why you do what you do. It must be about more than just money, power, or position. You will attract more of the things that satisfy you, including recognition and prosperity, by bringing your authentic self to your work.
2. Love What You Do
Are you excited about what you are doing? Does your career feel passionate and purposeful, or are you just earning a paycheck? If the latter, take the time to discover your calling and connect to what you do. Believe in your product or service and the success that only you can provide. Find joy and pleasure each day at your work. Lighten up, have fun, and let your enthusiasm be contagious. People want to interact with happy, positive people.
3. Create Connections
Build relationships by getting to know and understand the people you work with. What is important to them? Learn to relate to them as human beings with all of their strengths and struggles. Get to know their viewpoints, even if you don’t agree with them. And above all, practice kindness and respect. I recently had a client tell me that instead of following standard office protocol of emailing a question, she made it a point to have a face-to-face conversation with her coworkers. She found that, in addition to work-related anecdotes, people had their own stories to share. Whenever you can personally engage, do it.
4. Be of Service
What service are you providing? What problem are you solving? Add value: Offer a creative solution or fulfill a need. Get curious and create a reciprocity loop. Be giving and sharing, because when you start the loop with someone, it fosters connection and moves things forward. It makes others motivated to balance the scale, meaning they want to give back to you, too. Use what you are blessed with and the world gets to benefit. Successful people give away lots of information, share their experiences, and are willing to pay it forward. This is good karma.
5. Maintain Life Balance
Make self-care part of your business plan so you can bring your best body, mind, and spirit to your tasks. My favorite metaphor for this concept is the rule to put on your own oxygen mask on an airplane before assisting those around you. Engage in what brings you joy and create a life you want, not just a business you pursue.
6. Set Boundaries for Yourself and Others
Learn to say no, and do it often. Speak up by asking for what you want. Stay intentional with your words and actions. Here is a tool I use: I create an “energy container” for myself and decide who and what can come in, such as collaboration, creativity, and connection; and who and what needs to stay out, such as negativity, gossip, or mediocrity.
7. Build Your Army of Advocates
Leaders know when to get help. You are not meant to go it alone. Even solopreneurs and creative people such as artists and writers need to build a support team of collaborators, mentors, advocates, and connectors. Be the expert in areas you excel and seek support for your struggles. My assistant maintains my database, newsletters, bank accounts, coaching log, and other special projects. I have designers, tech support, writers, and a coach, and my best friend and mother are on my Excavive Board of Directors.
8. Keep Going and Keep Growing
Stay curious, learn new skills, expand your knowledge base, and beware of becoming stagnant. Never let yourself be bored. Have the courage to keep moving your career or business forward by envisioning what’s next for you and your work.
Lance Secretan wrote in Motto magazine, “Authenticity is complete oneness in our thinking, speaking, feeling, and doing. It’s head, mouth, heart, and feet all communicating and living the same message.” How can you create more alignment in your work life today? What is your path to creating more fulfillment in your work, based on who you truly are and what you deeply desire?
Jennifer Blair is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.