Originally posted March 26, 2014
Who Are You?
Who, Who, Who, Who!
(Admit it, you were just singing this song!)
A few months ago, something came across my desk…Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? Personally, I think it’s better asked, Who were you before the world told you who you should be?
I love this question on many levels, but mostly, because I’ve found it to be so true, in my own life and in the lives of my clients. Really think about it, do you have an answer?
For some reason, when we become a ‘grown-up,’ we oftentimes become a little too serious. Now, for those of you who know me, let’s just be honest, serious isn’t the first word (or even the 100th word!) that anyone would use to describe me. And I am A-OK with that! However, that doesn’t mean I can’t be serious nor does it mean I’m not taken seriously. Let’s also not confuse serious with professional, because they are not necessarily synonymous, although this is where many people get tripped up.
I often hear, ‘I’m so stressed out. I used to be fun.’ or ‘I know I’m being too serious, but I’m so worried about (x, y, z).‘ Yes, becoming an adult and having responsibilities (mortgage, putting food on the table, keeping your boss happy so you can keep your job, getting your kid into a good school, etc.), is important and therefore can cause a lot of stress. But how might that stress be ‘changing’ you? Perhaps you are a new manager and now feel you should be ‘acting’ a certain way? Or when you’re at a networking event, you suddenly change the tone or cadence of how you speak to be taken more seriously?
There’s a TV commercial currently airing for Carnival Cruises. One of the lines a mother says is…”or when Haley [daughter] realized vacation mom is different from mom-mom. “ Every time I hear it, I cringe a little. Why do vacation mom and mom-mom have to be different? Why is work self often different from home self? Why can’t we simply be OURselves?
We can’t really answer these questions until we figure out who our ‘self’ really is? And how do we do that? There are several ways to uncover who you really are… coaching, of course, but anyone can begin by identifying your core values, what drives you and what puts a smile on your face.
For many of you on the self awareness journey, you might be hearing the words, ‘being authentic’ or ‘your authentic self.’ Authenticity by definition is being real or genuine. When are you being most real and most genuine? We’re so worried about others judging us and how we are perceived, that sometimes we are so far away from our ‘authentic selves’ it hurts.
When we are truly aligned with who we really are, life is easier. We are also more creative, innovative and productive. I swear I ain’t lying!
Now, as always, I must add a caveat here…
If you play a clown on the weekends, perhaps wearing the big floppy shoes, polka-dotted onsie and red nose to the office on Monday isn’t appropriate. But are you not telling anyone at work you play a clown on weekends for fear of being judged or not taken seriously? (Honk, Honk!) For years, I was singing on the side of my ‘day job.’ I didn’t share this info with my co-workers as I wanted to keep that part of my life separate. But bottom line, I really just wanted to be taken seriously at work and I was worried this information might be ‘damaging.’ To what, I don’t know, but the worry was real. As I reflect back, was I worried about others judging me or was I simply busy judging myself.
Let’s be very clear. Being your authentic self isn’t necessarily sharing your life story with your co-workers. However, if you uncover that fun is a core value for you, and you realize you are not having fun in any areas of your life, then add more fun into it. (How might you be able to add more fun at work? We used to do a happy dance when a donation came into our organization! Hi BS!) If it’s connectedness with others, and you sit alone in an office with little human contact, get human contact some other way. This might also help uncover some of your passions. What were you passionate about as a kid? I loved to horseback ride. I just met a new friend who also loves to ride, so we’re going to ride together. (Thanks AR) That, to me, sounds super-fun.
What am I even trying to say here? Ask yourself how different are you in different areas of your life? Do you stifle your true self at work? Are you always trying to impress others and ‘acting’ as something other than yourself? Are you so worried about your image, that you don’t even recognize yourself in the mirror?
When I began coaching within organizations, I was being told (by others and my own crazy voices in my head) that I had to be ‘corporate.’ But that’s just not who I am and it truly paralyzed me to try to be that corporate image. When I finally allowed myself to be myself, I was then able to be a better coach, trainer and facilitator. Do I incorporate some non-traditional methods into my trainings that I believe make it more fun? You bet! But so far, my clients, although sometimes hesitant at first, tell me they enjoy it! Am I being inappropriate? No. Am I being unprofessional? No. Am I being ‘corporate?’ No. Am I being myself, yes!
If you perceive that as a woman you must only wear black and gray because you work in a male dominated industry, how is that limiting yourself, especially if you’re a color kind of gal? And, if you’re a director who does play a clown on weekends because you love to make kids laugh, put that picture on your desk and see what conversations come of it.
As we begin to shed our coats and hats and come out of our winter hibernation, perhaps ‘shed’ some of the layers of what is truly not you. I’d love to hear what happens.
In the words of Reba McIntyre’s song, ‘I’m a Survivor,’ “Who I am is who I want to be.” Who are you and who do YOU want to be?
Here’s to the bliss of uncovering who YOU are!
Lesley Picchietti, CPC, ACC, ELI-MP
© Inspire Bliss Coaching and Consulting 2014
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