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Archive for September 2011

Authenticity in the Workplace

MaskBack when I worked in banking, as the Assistant Manager of a branch, I wore a mask. No, not literally, you silly goose. After all, banks and masks don’t go well together if you know what I mean…But I hid all the same.

I was hiding behind an image of who I thought I should be, who I thought others wanted me to be. I didn’t show the “real me” because I was scared. Something inside me said I didn’t belong there. If people knew who I was, deep down, they wouldn’t respect me, they wouldn’t trust me, they wouldn’t listen to me.

I was just a kid!! I had no idea what I was doing!! I cried at night when I was alone. I felt overwhelmed and lost and out-of-control. I never balanced my checkbook, I forgot birthdays, I obsessed about boys. Who was I to “manage” anything??

I wasn’t even certain of who the “real me” was…

So I faked it. I pretended to be someone else–someone who had her life together. Someone who didn’t make work personal. Someone who barked orders and never backed down and refused to get close to anyone.

And you know what happened? I became a person I hated.

I thought this was just what people did at work. They acted. They didn’t show themselves because that would be weak. They didn’t make real connections with people because they would never take you seriously again. They never, ever showed their human side.

I was naïve, back then, in so many ways.

And when I finally left the bank (probably a year later than I should have…) I vowed never to make the same mistakes.

In my next job, as an executive assistant, I wanted to be the REAL, no-holds-barred CHRISSY. I wanted to be friends with everyone. I wanted to make everyone love me.

Turns out, that too is the wrong way to go.

So, once again, I changed my strategy.

I’ve never claimed to be perfect—not by a long shot—but I’ve learned a thing or two over the years.

I know there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about creating relationships in the workplace. I know there’s a middle ground in there, where you can be authentic and true to yourself without going too far. And where you can be respected and trusted and listened to even if you’re not perfect. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to hide.

You can create real, lasting authentic relationships in the workplace. I’m not talking about “friendships.” There’s a difference. Most people don’t really understand how to do this. And, like me, they end up with an inappropriate amount of distance—they’re too close to or too detached from their colleagues.

If this sounds all too familiar to you, I’d like to invite you to join me for a 4-part webinar series. During these four training sessions, I’m going to teach you the communication strategies and techniques you need to know in order to build and leverage the right kind of professional relationships—the kind that make you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing. The kind that allow others to respect you and, at the same time, enjoy being around you.

The best part? This series is very affordably priced. I know how important this topic is to your personal satisfaction at work and to your career success; I don’t want ANYONE to pass it up because of money issues.

You can learn more about the series and sign up here >>

Photo Credit: Protoflux (Flickr)

What Are You Willing to Risk?

This article is the tenth in a 10-part series on the topic of overcoming career-limiting habits.

I have to admit: I was thrilled, though somewhat surprised, to see “risk aversion” show up on the list of top career-limiting habits a while back. It seems that risk often gets a bad rap in the workplace. But it’s an absolute necessity.

Here’s the hard truth of life: Anything that’s worthwhile is almost always a little risky. There are very few certainties in life that lead to greatness. Growth, success, accomplishment, love—these things require risk. They’re not guaranteed. In order to ever attain them, you have to step out on a limb.

Moving forward almost always means taking a leap of faith.

And I’m talking about faith in yourself.

I think the thing that really holds people back—in their career and in life—is that they don’t have that faith. They’re risk averse because somewhere along the line they stopped believing in themselves.

So they hide. They shrink back. They take the well-worn path, even when it doesn’t lead exactly where they want to go. They settle. Whether out of fear or simply laziness, they sacrifice what they could be and what they could do for what they know.

Risk aversion comes at a very high price, indeed.

That idea of sacrifice is pretty significant when it comes to risk. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice certainty, comfort and safety, you could end up losing so much more.

You sacrifice possibility. Is it worth it to you?

Risk aversion is, by its very nature, limiting—whether we’re talking about your career or anything else. When you’re able to stare risk in the eye and forge ahead, you experience limitless opportunity.

Yes, that includes the opportunity to fail.

But you know what? You’re okay with that. You’ll survive. A little failure never broke you. In fact, it only made you stronger.

So what’s there to be afraid of? What’s there to hide from?

Why settle when you have limitless possibility inside you? Don’t give that up. Don’t sacrifice what could be. Don’t let the world down.

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