Want to Maximize Your Career Potential? Learn to be You at Work.
As we move into summer and a new quarter I’m switching gears and talking about your work life. Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, the office can be the hardest place to be the real you. This month we’re exploring how authenticity is your most powerful path to success.
Last month we finished off our sexuality series with a post about the importance of being the real you when starting a serious relationship. While it may not be as obvious, the same holds true for your career. The only way you can contribute fully is by bringing your whole self to the table.
For queer men hiding is often our go to way of protecting ourselves in a homophobic world. The behavior can be so much a part of our makeup that we don’t even realize when we’re doing it. When we hold back it gets in the way of our ability to contribute.
The reason we hide is that we’re uncomfortable with who we are. We feel like there’s something about us that isn’t right, that doesn’t fit. These feelings don’t have to be overwhelming to have an impact. Even when they’re subtle they can make us reluctant to share ideas and opinions. They can make us feel “less than” the other people on our teams. Holding back can seriously impede our ability to develop professionally.
Our uniqueness is what makes us valuable. This is just as true in business as in any other area of life. The perspectives, ideas, and opinions that you have are part of who you are. When you choose to hide yourself, you cut yourself off from the very thing that will make you successful. You block your flow, your ideas, and your passion for the job. Only being your whole self allows you to participate fully.
Of course being appropriate in the workplace is more important than ever. While fully expressing ourselves we must be sensitive to corporate culture, as we well and the boundaries of the people around us. Open self-expression isn’t about violating other’s space, or being insensitive. It’s about understanding how we can best contribute.
The tricky part is distinguishing between sensitivity and hiding. If you’re unsure simply ask yourself if being more open would somehow go against your company’s policies, or would be inappropriate to someone you’re working with. If the answer is no, it’s likely that you are more concerned about people’s negative opinions than your job being at risk.
There are some environments that are clearly queer-phobic. If you’re in one of them it’s time to make plan to get out. Eventually, your identity is going to become an issue. You’re far better off finding a company that embraces diversity and can value your contributions. The exception, is if you choose to fight against the negative corporate culture. If you want to come out to transform a profession that is traditionally queer-phobic, that’s awesome. Just don’t underestimate the courage, and determination it’ll take. I’ve been there, it’s hard, but definitely worth while.
Learning to share appropriately and authentically takes some time. It’s fine to take baby steps at first. But take them. Learning to powerfully and appropriately express from your deepest truth n the workplace is your formula for success. You can only bring everything you have to offer to the table if you’re being your true self.
Want some help navigating turbulent waters at work? Join me for a virtual coffee and let’s have a casual chat about what you’re facing and what you might be able to do about it. Just click here to learn more and set up an appointment.