Bring Yourself to Work Day: Living Authentically in Carefully Crafted World
Whenever we facilitate a team building or leadership development workshop, the first item on the to-do list is always establishing trust. Why? Because if participants don’t trust each other and their facilitators, they won’t get anything out of the experience. Almost all of us have been there—sitting in a training session and not remotely interested, trusting, or motivated to participate. The result is a lot of pleasant nodding, smiling, and absolutely no lasting impact.
Real change, real growth only happens after we trust those around us enough to bring ourselves to the table. Our true, raw, authentic selves—not the carefully crafted and curated “professional” versions we’re so accustomed to hiding behind.
Trusting and showing up as the complex, nuanced, feeling, emotional human beings that we are can feel scary because it makes us feel naked…exposed. It doesn’t help that in most cases, showing human emotions also directly contradicts what most of us have been trained to believe is appropriate “businesslike” behavior.
Once people get past their initial fear and apprehension, something amazing happens. What felt like exposed vulnerability transforms into an ownership of personal power. People begin to find their “flow” as they stop fighting their instincts and start trusting themselves. Before they know it, they’ve tapped into strength, resilience, and a feeling of intrinsic satisfaction that they’d never dreamed was possible.
Finding your authentic self is a long journey, but as Lao Tzu’s famous proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Here are a few simple ways you can take that first step today.
Trust your intuition, and honor your inner voice.
Human beings, for all our faults, are walking powerhouses of data analysis. Our brains have been perfectly programmed by time, evolution, and our experiences to make amazingly accurate decisions despite processing an immeasurable amount of data on an almost continual basis. Yet, we so often ignore what our intuition tells us.
Instead of trying to fight your intuition, engage it. Literally say to yourself “Let’s assume that I’m right about this…” and see where your assumption takes you.
Take stock of your feelings.
Ah, feelings…the bane of the modern workplace. Like intuition, your feelings are constantly sending you messages about your state of mind, acting as a barometer for how you’re doing. The thing with feelings is the harder you try to push them down, the harder they’ll fight back.
Get in a habit of taking stock of your feelings, and try to identify and isolate why you feel one way or another. Feeling particularly great? Try to determine why, so that you can replicate that feeling of euphoria more often. Feeling sad? Frustrated? Angry? Try to unpack those feelings and identify their root cause. Despite the foreboding and gloomy haze that we manifest when negative feelings are present, the root causes of those feelings are often much simpler and more straightforward than what we’re feeling in comparison. Even if you don’t know how to respond to that negative root cause in that specific moment, you’ll likely feel better and more in-control knowing that you’ve got your eye on the issue.
Being still, meditating, and finding your inner quiet may be the most powerful action you can take, and you can do it right now. Find time for stillness in your daily life, whether it be a few moments in the morning before you start your day, turning off the radio for your commute, or taking in some fresh air over your lunch hour. Read a book on meditation, or find a guided affirmation on YouTube that resonates with you.
In the quiet, you will find yourself in ways you didn’t know you could, and you’ll hear all the amazing things that your mind has been trying to tell you while it has been drowned out by the noise of day-to-day life.
How do you bring your most authentic self to work? What strategies have you found to be most beneficial?