Have you ever noticed that some people have two versions of themselves?
They have their real self and then they have their work self, and the two can be very different.
Why might someone do that?
Why might somebody choose not to bring their real, genuine self to work?
I had a mentor who said that we take our representatives to work. You drive up to your workplace, park your car, and then you leave your real self behind in the car. Maybe you put the window down for her so she has some air, but you want her to stay there where it's safe and protected.
Then you take your representative inside to interact with others. It's your representative who risks rejection, blame and criticism and your real self is safe and protected.
When a mistake is made or efforts are criticized, the representative doesn't get hurt because it's just a facade. It's not the real person, the tender vulnerable being who cares what people think and wants to belong.
This might be an effective tactic short term, but long term, it doesn't work. We are hardwired for connection. We need to feel connected to other people and recognized and valued for who we are and what we contribute.
This sense of belonging that comes from being seen and appreciated creates sustainability and retention in the workplace and increases engagement.
Brené Brown makes the distinction between fitting in and belonging. She says that fitting in requires us to change who we are. Belonging allows us, requires us to be who we are.
The message of fitting in is ”How do I mold and protect myself so that I'm safe in this environment?” When we focus on belonging, the message is that “I show up and engage as my real self, my full self, and I'm accepted - not in spite of who I am, but because of who I am.”
Do you bring your real self to work? Do you feel a sense of belonging or do you feel like you have to change yourself to fit in? And if it's your representative showing up and not the real you, what's the cost of that choice?
Until next time, time, be brave, be kind and take good care.
Katie is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and Executive Coach.