I recently found out that one of the best people I know is leaving the company.
When I asked her why, she said that she was becoming someone she didn’t like – she said that she could no longer stand the snappy and stressed out high-functioning sociopath that she had become.
Most new age management gurus will tell you that being yourself at work is a good thing. I think they need to go out in the real world more.
Being yourself in a City firm can be really tough, if you’re ambitious and want to make it to the top.
Tough but possible with a little re-framing.
be yourself at work
1. Pick your avatar
Think of your work self as an avatar. Like in movies, your avatar is a version of you – created to survive in an environment where regular humans don’t stand a chance.
It is you and it isn’t. Your corporate avatar needs to have enough of you that you can still be yourself and authentic. It needs to have those core values and the peculiar behavioural habits that make you who you are. That’s really important if you want to avoid being a a schizophrenic mess five years down the line.
And yet your corporate avatar doesn’t have to have all of you – leave some of it out for your partner, your friends and family! This will remove a lot of emotional baggage and give you space for personal growth.
Be that version of you, and embrace it. But draw a very clear line somewhere: Regardless of your job, or the politics in your office, be clear about the person you want to be.
I admire my friend for having the courage to say ‘this is not who I want to be’ – Know what you stand for, be loyal to the people you care about – and remember to switch the avatar off and plug it to charge when you get home!
2. Learn to speak your mind only when it is worth it
Now that one’s really tricky if you are an expressive, or a generally enthusiastic person.
We all know that sharing too much personal information – like how much you enjoyed getting drunk on martinis with your mates last Friday, or even your kids’ potty training stories- is a bad idea.
Yet we still make the same mistake, time and time again.
There are even people who think it might be a good idea to accept a Facebook ‘friend’ request from colleagues. Never a good idea – for obvious reasons – except if you plan to turn your Facebook page into a PR tool and disappoint all your actual friends by having to pretend to be someone you’re not for the rest of your life.
3. Don’t become boring
If you leave your mischievous side out of the picture, it will be back with a vengeance. We all need to bring enough of ourselves to work to feel alive.
Find like-minded people, create your own codes or nicknames for various stakeholders.. No one likes to work with boring people, and life is too short to take work so seriously.