How to Be Yourself at Work

Many articles, blogs, and books describe the “right” way to be a strong employee, effective manager, etc. Let’s be honest, there are a variety of skills, techniques, and experience influence one’s effectiveness in the workplace. Just applying new technique, management style, or latest business catchphrase often creates minimal impact. I approach personal effectiveness in the workplace a little differently. The greatest impact a person can have in their career it to learn who they were meant to be, and live it!

A number of wise men and women have poured into me as mentors, elders, and leaders throughout my working life. Early in my career, my focus circled around trying to be like those I respected as leaders and influencers. After decades of working with people, I began to understand what one mentor said to me ages ago, “Be the person you were created to be, no one else.”

A key experience all my clients complete with me is a writing their personal values. Personal values transpose situation, whether at home, with friends, or at work. When you write down the four or five values you believe at your core, you start to live from these values in all areas of life. Such values may be honesty, integrity, compassion, ethics, family-centered, or others. By reading these values, you notice they are not hard, tangible techniques, but mentalities from which to approach life. Being honest at home involves taking responsibility for mistakes and speaking truthfully. At the office, honesty involves the same ideas with slightly different execution. If living honestly is a core value for you, putting it “on the shelf” at a job drastically impacts how you show up to work. You may become sluggish, lack motivation, procrastinate on projects, communicate poorly, and much more.

A small shift in your mentality, committing to yourself to be honest regarding your mistakes, timelines, and responsibilities at work, appears minor at first, but it changes everything. All of a sudden, you see a project as an opportunity to manage in a way you are proud of. Knowing a deadline will be missed shifts from drudgery to an open conversation with those involved out of truthfulness and respect, giving them important information they need to work on their parts.

Identifying core values doesn’t change the person, core values always exist, but living them out fully changes one’s outlook on life. You live as you always desired to live, bringing more gusto, confidence, and effectiveness just by being yourself.

One of my core values is empowerment of others. The act of helping others as a coach to achieve their goals would feel lacking for me when the goal was simply to ask good questions. But when my mentality switches to empowering others to be who God created them to be, I come to the table invigorated, coaching out of who I am not out of a formula of who I think I should be. Excitement springs up before meetings. I long to meet with anyone interested in coaching to live out my passion for life! It changes everything for me.

What are your core values? What brings excitement to you, not just a task, but how you approach completing the task? Take some time to ponder these questions for your life. It may take some time and multiple attempts to clearly articulate your values, as it did for me. When you find them, a spark will arise within you, an eagerness to be the person you were created to be. You will show up differently as a father, wife, employee, manager, parishioner, etc. because you live true to yourself. One caveat – this is a challenging but exciting journey. Many never spend the time necessary to find their true selves, either afraid of what they will find or that it won’t meet their or someone else’s expectations. Taking this journey will change your life. You can find peace within yourself living as only you can live. Are you up for the challenge?

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