Have you ever gone to work and left half of yourself at home? You know, the fun part. Or the creative part. Maybe even the confident part. I know I did. For years, I locked my sensitivity and intuition in the file cabinet above my cubicle desk. Each day I entered a war zone in a dark suit, accented by heels, perfect French manicures and gold jewelry. I thought my efforts would let the “powers that be” know I deserved to be there.
I tried to look the part, but could I play the role?
Could I show up as only a fraction of myself?
Every. Single. Day.
Did I even want to?
Do any of us want to show up in spaces as less than our whole selves?
Over the years, I have become obsessed with the idea of lost human potential. I realize now that I came close to losing my own potential in the years I spent working for large corporations. I’ve since learned I wasn’t the only one leaving my best self at home. Many of us are, and especially women.
What happens to the self that’s left behind? Is it lost forever? Do we return home and pick up the pieces like nothing even happened? Hi Honey, I’m home. Please pass me the salt, a side of joy and my self-confidence…
It’s true that employers want specific skills from their recruits and often not much else. They ask us to separate our personal life from business, but when does that go too far? What happens when the part of ourselves that we leave behind is the part that’s most needed?
What would our lives look like if we could bring our whole selves to work? Wouldn’t it feel amazing to show up authentically you in your next business meeting?
Here are a few tips to help you break free from office constraints and bring your whole, fabulous self to work:
- Speak up. – When you step into a room with people who don’t look like you or anybody from your family, it’s easy to clam up. The thing is, the room needs your perspective. Diverse perspectives are valuable whether it’s across gender, race, culture, sexuality, ethnicity or any other type of identity. Bang on the walls of the echo chamber and speak your truth. Make sure to stay current with news and trends in your industry so you know your stuff. Remember your manners when you engage with others, and make some noise.
- Get Creative. – Creativity isn’t just about painting murals, sculpting statues, writing novels and making movies. We are all born creators. We all started with our childhood imagination, whether we were building sandcastles and mud pies or talking to invisible friends. Simply put, creativity is in our DNA. Think of new ways to do your current job or processes to improve your department. Consider creating a new employee resource group or enhancing an existing one. Think outside of the business model and bring fresh ideas to the table.
- Show your style. – Depending on where you work, the dress code might be super strict or totally fluid. Either way, you can bring elements of your personal style to the office. If big earrings won’t make the cut, maybe a statement necklace will do the trick. If bold colors are frowned upon, perhaps a pair of red pumps or a yellow purse can bring a splash of color and put a smile on your face. If there is a special heirloom that makes you feel connected to your personal power, wear it. If there’s something that you really love but don’t want to wear, carry it in your purse. You can do this with crystals, vintage pieces, heirlooms or any special item that reminds you of your whole and complete self.
- Be Empathetic. – We often go to work with the heart of a soldier ready for battle. While competition is revered in our capitalist nation, the world needs more of the empathy so often left behind. Offer support to co-workers, particularly the ones who are newer to the corporate jungle. Remember when you were the new kid on the block, and be the big sister you wish you had met on your first day on the job. Be a mentor. You’ll learn more than you imagined from the people you support and encourage.
- Follow your intuition. – Facts and data have an important role in any business and should be highly regarded, but not at the loss of intuition. Pay attention to your gut when making important decisions and make time for regular periods of stillness so you can check in with yourself. Many times the quest for profits can lead to questionable behavior. Make sure to stay on the path that settles your spirit and allows you to sleep peacefully at night.
There is gentle power in each of these steps. Together, they can make you a legitimate, authentic force of nature, standing with grace in the pursuit of your highest calling.
The more you show up as YOU, the healthier and happier you’ll be whether you’re at work, at home or any place else you choose to explore.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. I took this photo yesterday at Kennesaw Mountain. I’m honored to have the opportunity to walk in my authentic truth Every. Single. Day. If you’re looking to connect with like-minded women, join me in August for my Passion Quest 6-week Coaching Series. Click the link below to find out more.